Management of the Economy and Ministerial Severance Payments

– in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 15th November 2022.

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Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government 12:56 pm, 15th November 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
censures the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Member for South West Norfolk, and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Member for Spelthorne, for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK;
and believes that, if they have not already done so, both Rt Hon Members should waive at least £6,000 of their ministerial severance payments.

Like every Member in this House, I have been inundated in recent weeks by constituents who have seen their dreams of home ownership go up in smoke and who have seen hundreds of pounds added to their monthly mortgage repayments since the disastrous mini-Budget which crashed the economy and sent interest rates soaring. Yesterday, I spoke to a constituent who has had her mortgage offer withdrawn. She is in private rented accommodation and her private landlord, like many others, is getting out of the system. She has been served with a no-notice eviction. She has a young son and she has been told to leave her home before Christmas. So I make no apology for coming to this House angry today. I am angry that this has been visited on my constituents. I am angry that this is a crisis that was made in Downing Street and that since it happened the Government have not lifted a finger to help.

Mortgage offers have been withdrawn. Dreams have gone up in smoke. We have seen the largest interest rate hike since 1989 and the cost of borrowing is at its highest in almost 15 years. A typical family is now paying £500 more every month towards mortgage repayments.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

The hon. Gentleman can shake his head, but it is a fact. This is money that many families across the country simply do not have. Food is going up, energy is going up, rents are going up and now mortgages are going through the roof. The one thing that this country cannot afford anymore is more of this Tory Government, who have been in office for 12 years.

Almost 2 million people are struggling to afford their mortgage costs. Government Members do not have to take my word for it—that is according to the Office for National Statistics. That is one in four mortgage holders. First-time buyers now face putting £1 of every £4 they earn towards their mortgage. Mortgage repossessions have soared by 91% compared with the same period last year, while the number of orders to seize property is up over 100%.

The crisis does not just affect homeowners; it is seeping into every part of the housing market. Buy-to-let landlords’ profits have declined by almost three quarters compared with last year because of rising interest rates, which means many tenants, already forking out huge chunks of their income on rent, are seeing their rents go through the roof. This is a housing crisis, the likes of which we have not seen for a generation, and what caused it? Let us make no mistake that this is a Tory crisis created in Downing Street by a disastrous mini-Budget which crashed the economy and threw families up and down the country under a bus. It is no coincidence that, after the mini-Budget, more than 40% of available mortgages were withdrawn from the market. It is no coincidence that the Bank of England had to launch an unprecedented intervention to stabilise the markets. Hon. Members do not need to take my word for it; 12 days ago, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee report said:

“The sharp pickup in UK interest rates has been partly driven by global factors, but UK-specific factors have played an important role”— and that

“UK interest rates had increased by somewhat more than others”.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her very good speech. I have been pleased to see lots of new homes being built in my constituency and nearby, because that has created jobs. However, does she share my anxiety that, with increased mortgage costs, the new homes will not be sold and that the people who will build the next phase will lose their jobs as well?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I will say more about that in a moment. This country is facing not just a housing crisis, but a growth crisis. Housing is a central part of the answer to the growth problem that the Tory Government have presided over for the past 12 years and it has to be part of the solution. This is a Tory crisis; it was made in Downing Street and is being paid for by working people. It is not Tory Ministers who will pay the price for it, but working people who will do so for years to come.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

There are 8,000 mortgage payers in Southwark who face a rise, on average, of £1,254 a month. Does my hon. Friend agree that they are owed and still waiting for an apology from the Government for the mess of the mini-Budget, which directly caused their mortgages to rise?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

The hon. Member is absolutely right. Like many others, I was astonished to see the former Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, recently give an interview in which he said that the only thing that the Government had got wrong was not to explain themselves properly. That is absolutely disgraceful. We are giving Government Members the chance to set this right today and to show whose side they are on. Are they on the side of the people they put in office, who walked away with ministerial severance payments and profited from the crisis that they caused, or are they on the side of working people, who are currently paying the price?

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative, Orpington

I would be grateful if the hon. Lady could advise the House on how many Labour Ministers refused their severance payments in 2010.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

I will throw the question straight back to the hon. Member: how many times did we see, in 44 days, the former Prime Minister and Chancellor essentially use the security of people in this country as an experiment? They treated us as lab rats for their ideology. They crashed the economy and left working people to pay the price.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

If the hon. Member wants to be the first on the Government Benches to apologise, I will certainly give him the opportunity.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative, Orpington

I note that the hon. Lady did not answer my question; will she do so now?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

Honestly, a bit of humility from Government Members would be in order. The situation is unprecedented. They have been in office for 12 years. You put two people in office, or rather, they put two people in office, Mr Speaker—I would never for a moment suggest that you would do such a thing—who were fundamentally unsuitable for the role. They supported them, backed them to the hilt and stood up from the Government Benches and supported every move that they made. They cheered as the mini-Budget was announced and they still do not have the humility to apologise for the damage that they have inflicted on families up and down the country. The Chancellor may have U-turned, the new Prime Minister may have admitted that mistakes were made, and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities may have apologised for the error of his party’s ways, but apologies do not cut it. Government Members allowed this to happen. Without them, Elizabeth Truss would not have become Prime Minister and the right hon. Member for Spelthorne would not have been Chancellor. Government Members let it happen; they cheered as the disastrous mini-Budget was commended to the House. They may be sorry now, although I am still waiting to hear it, but the damage has been done. Some 113,000 people were forced to re-mortgage between the mini-Budget and the present Chancellor’s belated U-turn.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Does the shadow Minister agree that this is not just about those who have to re-mortgage or restructure their deal, but about people’s vision of having their own home? I and everyone in the House own their home. My constituents own or want to own their home, but their dreams have been knocked on the head. Does she agree that we are at a crossroads—betwixt where we are and where we will be? If we do not sort this out, people’s ambition to own their home will not be realised.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

The hon. Member and I have discussed that issue many times. As he knows, in my first job, I worked for the homelessness charity Centrepoint and I learned that a secure, decent home that is fit to live in is the foundation of a decent, secure, richer, larger and more dignified life, and without it, nothing is possible.

Some 1.6 million borrowers on variable rate deals—one in five mortgaged homeowners—are seeing their bills rise higher than ever. Many of them face the prospect of re-mortgaging on more expensive deals because rates are now higher than they would have been otherwise.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons)

My hon. Friend is making a passionate speech. On the damage done, I raised with the previous Welsh Secretary—we have had a few of those in the past few months—the issues that my constituent faces. They bought a house five years ago, and they have now come out of a five-year fixed mortgage and their mortgage has gone up by £276 a month. The solution for my constituent is to sell their home, so not only are this Conservative Government stopping people buying homes, but in some case people are having to sell their home and go back into the private rented sector or to a smaller house. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is the damage this Conservative Government are doing?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The truth is that before the former Prime Minister and Chancellor crashed the economy, we had a housing crisis in this country. We saw social housing stock being lost faster than it was being built, with rents rising in the private rented sector and a real squeeze on people there. The Government promised to do something about it, but we have had three years of them dragging their feet. We have had more Secretaries of State than we have had promises, and we have had a lot of those, but nothing has been delivered. I will say more about that in a moment.

Given all of that, I genuinely ask Government Members: where is the Housing Secretary? Why has he not met banks and lenders in the middle of this mortgage crisis? Any Government worth their salt would be moving heaven and earth to help families and protect vulnerable people as we head into what promises to be the harshest winter that many families can remember. The crisis is of such magnitude that we accept that there is no magic-bullet solution, but any Government worth their salt would do everything in their power and pull every lever to make a difference.

This afternoon, the shadow Chancellor—my hon. Friend Rachel Reeves—and I will be talking to lenders about what can be done. Why is the Housing Secretary not doing the same? He has a reputation for roving across Government as Mr Fix-It. This is a major crisis in his brief; why is he not doing everything he can to fix it?

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way a second time. I remember the mortgage rates during the Thatcher years: mine exceeded 15%. Despite a good income, we struggled, but all around us, people were losing their homes. Interest rates have some way to go to reach those levels, but does she share my anxiety that if the Government do not take the right action now, another generation will face double-digit interest rates in this country?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

I agree absolutely. Bringing stability back to the economy is the first step, but the Government could do more. We know that the only way out of this crisis is growth and we know how central housing is to that part of the puzzle. The Government could start by committing again to their target of 300,000 homes a year and do more than that by actually building them. The Conservative Government’s failure over 12 years to build enough homes is a major cause of the housing crisis.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Before the hon. Lady moves on to the section of her speech about the Government abdicating responsibility, does she share my astonishment that the right hon. Members for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) and for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) are not here today? Given that they are no longer in Government, what else do they have to do that is so important that they cannot be here to account for their actions?

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

I imagine that the right hon. Members are counting the value of their severance payments somewhere else. Meanwhile, the rest of us are dealing with our constituents who are suffering from the fallout of their appalling choices. Home ownership rates have fallen over the past 12 years and the number of new affordable homes that are available to buy has plummeted. That is before the mortgage guarantee scheme and Help to Buy come to an end later this year.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards

As an 11-year-old child at a primary school in the Rhondda put it to me on Friday morning, the Tories broke the money. That is the problem. Many people in the Rhondda are losing their homes, either because buy-to-let mortgages have collapsed and people are selling or because they cannot afford the additional mortgage fees. They are furious and scandalised that the people who brought that about are being rewarded with multi-thousand-pound pay-offs.

The Government may try to pretend that today’s motion is irrelevant, but will my hon. Friend confirm that every single time such a motion of censure has been tabled, the Government have sought to vote it down and not just run away? Sometimes that has led to people losing their salary or resigning, or to the Government falling. The Government cannot just pretend that nothing is happening today. They have either to vote the motion down or lose—and if they lose, they go.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

The Government have a clear choice today: they can stand up for people whose hopes and dreams have been shattered, or they can stand with a former Prime Minister and former Chancellor who have profited from a situation that will leave families across this country paying the price for years to come. If the Government do not back the motion, they cannot possibly turn up in this place on Thursday and tell us that this is about fairness or that they are on people’s side.

Millions of people are affected—not just those who will be paying more on their mortgages for years to come, but the millions who are stuck in rented accommodation, including thousands who saw their dreams of home ownership shattered when their mortgage offers were withdrawn in the days after the mini-Budget. Many of those families are facing the dreaded prospect of homelessness because they cannot afford higher rents.

The Government have promised to end section 21 no-fault evictions. Why on earth has that not happened yet? The Opposition called for emergency legislation months ago to make it happen. That protection is more important than ever this winter, but it is not there because the Government continue to drag their feet. Renters need greater protections, which is why Labour has laid out plans for a renters’ charter to give families more security and stability in their own homes, including with an immediate end to no-fault evictions.

The truth is that there is no short-term plan to deal with the crisis, and no long-term plan either. The Government could reform compulsory purchase orders to build more houses. They could raise stamp duty on foreign buyers to stop them buying whole developments off plan. They could give first-time buyers first dibs on newly built homes. A serious Government would use the affordable housing budget that has already been allocated to get more homes built. That is the route out, not just from the housing crisis but from the growth crisis that the Tories have created over the past decade. I will say this to the Minister, because her boss is not here: we will be watching like hawks on Thursday. If a penny of the affordable housing budget is clawed back to the Treasury because it has not been used, that will be on him, on her and on all Conservative Members.

This country needs a plan. People need hope, and any Government worth their salt would be providing it. In that context, it is obscene that the former Prime Minister is in line to receive a severance payment of almost £19,000 and the former Chancellor is set to rake in nearly £17,000. That is more than many of my constituents earn in an entire year—and they would have some brass neck to pocket that much for a job so atrociously done. It is abhorrent that someone can become Prime Minister of this country with the backing of only 80,000 people who are all Conservative party members, and then appoint a Chancellor, jointly crash the economy, cost hard-working families hundreds of pounds every month for years on end, and walk away scot-free with a severance payment worth thousands in their back pocket. To quote the former Prime Minister, that is a disgrace.

Today, Conservative Members have an opportunity to put things right. They can vote with us to send a message that we will not stand for this. If they are serious about making a clean break with what has gone before and serious about fairer, more decent decisions that put hard-working people first, they can vote with us today. They can make it clear that what is happening is unacceptable and express the clear will of this House that it should not, cannot and must not stand.

The choice that Government Members face is simple. Whose side are they on? Are they on the side of the hard-working families who are suffering because the economy was set on fire and who are paying hundreds of pounds more, through no fault of their own, at a time when just getting by is already a struggle? Or are they on the side of the arsonists—the people who set fire to our economy and have left working people to pay the price? These severance payments are indefensible, and Government Members know it. Now is the time for the new Prime Minister and his MPs to decide which side they are on.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 1:15 pm, 15th November 2022

I would like to start by recognising, as the Prime Minister has done, that mistakes have been made. No Government are immune from mistakes, but to suggest, as the Opposition have done, that these mistakes are the cause of a particular average increase in monthly mortgage rates is wholly inaccurate. Moreover, to say so is simply failing to be honest with the British people.

As the shadow Secretary of State, Lisa Nandy, knows and ought to acknowledge, the economic downturn and the consequent rise in interest rates have been caused by two major global events: the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. She knows that countries across the globe are grappling with the same issues as us. She will know that the US Federal Reserve has been raising its base rate since March 2022. She will know that the economic situation affecting the UK is not unique to this country. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund has stated that a third of the world’s economy will be in recession this year or next as the impacts of the pandemic and Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine are felt across the world.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

May I bring the Minister back to this planet and back to reality for a little minute? Does she not understand that after the mini-Budget there was a run on pensions and the Bank of England had to step in? Will she not just accept that it was her Government who crashed the economy, leading to the pain that many of my constituents are experiencing?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I do not accept that there was a run on pensions. I do accept that mistakes were made, but the Prime Minister is focusing on putting the economy on a strong fiscal path and taking the necessary decisions, which I am sure we will hear more about on Thursday.

The shadow Secretary of State will know that in these globally challenging times—in these difficult periods that are affecting people across the country—the former Chancellor, now the Prime Minister, has always been on the side of those who are most vulnerable and need support. He has remained committed to that with the Chancellor as he brings forward the fiscal statement later this week. As a result of the economic challenges, he and the Chancellor are now focusing on restoring stability, sorting out the public finances and getting debt falling so that interest rate rises are kept as low as possible. I welcome this opportunity to remind the shadow Secretary of State and the House of the Prime Minister’s record, of what we are doing to support people in all our constituencies who cannot manage, and of our absolute commitment to continuing to do so.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The people I talked to on the doorsteps of Southfields on Saturday were not blaming Putin; they were blaming the Government for crashing the economy and for London’s rising mortgage rates, which mean that they are paying an average of £835 more a month. How does the Minister expect hard-working families to cope with that increase?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government absolutely acknowledge that people are in challenging circumstances across the country. We want to support those people, and in fact we have provided support to help the hon. Member’s constituents and help those on the lowest incomes—that has been our priority for some time. I do not know whether she will remember that we have already provided £37 billion by way of a support package to help people with the cost of living. We are helping millions of households and businesses with rising energy costs through the energy price guarantee and the energy bill relief scheme, saving a typical householder—those people in her constituency—£700 this winter. Indeed, nearly one in four families across the UK will be receiving a £324 cost of living payment, from last week, as part of our £1,200 package for the 8 million most vulnerable families.

We also recognise that one of the best ways to support people is helping them into work. Unemployment is at 3.6%, up from 3.5%, which was the lowest level since 1974. I am proud that we have helped more than half a million universal credit and jobseeker’s allowance claimants into jobs through our Way to Work scheme.

Photo of Christian Wakeford Christian Wakeford Labour, Bury South

The Minister speaks about helping those on the lowest incomes. What part of removing the caps on bankers’ bonuses or removing the 45% tax rate will help those people?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The hon. Member is cherry-picking—and, of course, that particular announcement was of measures that will help the economy. He will know that, to help the most vulnerable, we have cut fuel duty and increased the personal threshold for national insurance contributions, raising it from £9,500 to £12,500. We are providing the cold weather payment, the warm home discount and the increase in the national living wage. For those with young children, we are providing £200 million a year to support the holiday activities and food programme. To help people into jobs, we have the kickstart and restart schemes and the skills bootcamps. We are helping vulnerable people across the board. Moreover, we have been doing so over the past year as these challenging circumstances have manifested themselves. [Interruption.]

Photo of Danny Kruger Danny Kruger Conservative, Devizes

My right hon. and learned Friend is reciting a list of all the generous support packages that are in place while facing a barrage of chuntering from the Opposition. Does she think they are aware that global energy prices have risen eightfold in the last year thanks to Putin’s invasion? That is causing the inflation that the whole world is suffering. European countries have higher inflation than the UK, and the Government are doing what they can to help households.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because I think it is really important to be honest with the British people about the challenges we face, why we are facing them and, therefore, how we can deal with them. To suggest that they are simply being caused by an event that happened two months ago is simply wrong, and Opposition Members know that.

As well as providing immediate support, we have focused on doing everything we can to get our finances in order domestically, because the risk of higher inflation becoming entrenched is the greatest danger. Sound money and a stable economy are the best ways to deliver what the hon. Member for Wigan asked for: lower mortgage rates, more jobs and long-term growth. We have taken every opportunity to do that in the first weeks of this Government—to restore credibility to the public finances, being up front about the enormous task ahead—and the markets have responded positively to what we have done and the direction in which we are going.

Let me now deal with a specific issue raised by the hon. Member for Wigan, that of interest rates. It is important to point out that the pricing and availability of mortgages are not decided by the Government; they are commercial decisions for lenders in which this Government—indeed, any Government—do not seek to intervene. However, let me highlight four points that I am sure Opposition Members would like to hear.

First, as I mentioned earlier, we have already taken immediate action to secure the UK’s economic stability, demonstrating our commitment to fiscal discipline. That has provided stability for the markets, including mortgages. Secondly, although I recognise that many people are concerned about their mortgage payments and do not want in any way to diminish their real and legitimate concerns about the cost of living, about 75% of residential mortgages are on a fixed rate and are therefore shielded from rate rises in the near term. Moreover, because of changes that have been made to the regulatory regime introduced by the coalition Government applying the lessons of the last financial crash, the mortgage application process has been more rigorous, ensuring that borrowers will be able to continue to afford to make repayments. Today’s mortgage holders are therefore better placed to weather the changes.

Thirdly, the Government have some lines of support available aimed at helping people to avoid repossession, including support for mortgage interest loans for those in receipt of an income-related benefit. As I am sure the hon. Member for Wigan heard, the Government announced earlier this year that they would allow homeowners to access support for mortgage interest earlier than the current nine-month wait time. The details on that will follow shortly.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I will give way shortly.

Furthermore, there is some protection in the courts through the pre-action protocol, which makes it clear that repossession must always be the last resort for lenders. Fourthly, if mortgage holders do fall into financial difficulty, guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority requires firms to provide support through tailored forbearance options, which could include a range of measures depending on individual circumstances. We continue to work with the FCA and the financial services sector to explore what additional measures may support efforts to help people facing rising mortgage costs.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

I am surprised by the Minister’s rewriting of history, particularly in relation to the Prime Minister’s role in failing our economy over many years. She has talked about fiscal rules. Can she tell me why many of the fiscal tables show Britain at the bottom end of the economic league?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I think the hon. Member is forgetting that the UK is projected to have the highest growth rate in the G7 in 2023. I think he is forgetting—or is not aware—that we are seeing inflation across the globe. Germany’s inflation rate is 11.6%, Italy’s is 12.8%, and the eurozone’s is 10.7%. These are obviously issues that are affecting people across the globe. This Government are committed to supporting vulnerable people who need the support that we are providing.

Let me now address some of the points made by the hon. Member for Wigan about homes, home ownership and the shattering of dreams. It will not surprise Opposition Members to learn that we believe home ownership to be an essential component of any long-term issues in our economy. This Government are proud of their track record of helping first-time buyers on to the housing ladder, and we have just expanded first-time buyer relief by raising the level at which first-time buyers start paying stamp duty, from £300,000 to £425,000. I seem to remember that the Opposition voted against that. As the hon. Member mentioned, we are also investing £11.5 billion in affordable homes. She will be aware, I hope, that since 2010 we have delivered 598,000 new affordable homes, and Government-backed schemes have helped more than 800,000 households to purchase a home since 2010.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I welcome the fact that Labour is joining the Conservatives in championing the desire to own homes, which has traditionally been a strong Conservative party position. Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the rate of home ownership in the UK rose throughout the second half of the 20th century, reached a peak just as the last Labour Government came to power, and fell throughout almost the entire period of that Government? It was only as a result of a range of measures introduced by the Conservative Government, on their election in 2010, that home ownership rates started to rise again. Labour may say things, but after its 13 years in power it left home ownership rates plummeting throughout the UK.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am grateful for my hon. Friend and neighbour’s intervention. He is knowledgeable on all these matters and makes an important point about rhetoric and not action, because I also know, as I am sure hon. Members across the House do, that the Labour party did not deliver the building of the same number of affordable houses—social houses—as this Government did.

On house building, the hon. Member for Wigan seemed to suggest that she was not aware that the Levelling Up Secretary had committed to our plans to work towards 300,000 homes a year—[Interruption.] I have heard him commit to that several times since I have been in the Department. To that end, we have already announced £10 billion-worth of investment in housing supply since the start of this Parliament, with those supply interventions ultimately due to unlock over 1 million new homes over the course of this Parliament and beyond.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am going to continue for a moment.

Let us be clear about this. There has been a lot of criticism from the Opposition about what we on this side of the House would do, but what is Labour’s record of delivery? This Government have always been clear that it is difficult to solve everyone’s problems all the time, but let us consider what solutions a Labour Government would have come up with in this challenging time and their record of delivery. Our Prime Minister’s approach is one of fiscal responsibility and sound money. Does anyone across this House know what Labour’s annual fiscal black hole is? Labour has racked up £147.8 billion— [Interruption.] I am happy to provide the details. Labour has racked up £159.8 billion of annual spending commitments and only £11.2 billion of annual revenue raisers across a five-year Parliament. Does the hon. Member for Wigan know what that would cost every household? It would be £5,474—

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am just going to finish this point.

We recognise that work is the best way out of poverty, and our approach is to support the most vulnerable to get into work. Under a Labour Government in 2010, benefits were the largest source of income for the poorest working-age households. Under the Conservatives now, it is their earnings. We have low unemployment, yet every single time Labour has left office, the unemployment figures have been higher than when it took office. It is Conservative Governments time after time who have managed the economy in a stable and responsible manner to secure our public finances.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government

Can I just gently say this to the Minister? I have heard her blame the Labour party, although her party has been in office for 12 years. I have heard Conservative Members blame the Bank of England. I have heard them blame the bond markets and I have heard them blame society. What I have not heard is a single one of them have the humility to come here and say sorry to the people whose mortgage payments have gone through the roof and whose hopes and dreams have gone up in smoke. She knows, Conservative Members know, we know and most of all the public know who is responsible for this crisis. It is a crisis made in Downing Street by a Tory Government who still cannot bring themselves to say sorry. She can blame us all she likes, but they have had 12 years. Say sorry!

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am grateful for the hon. Member’s very short intervention. I think she will have noticed that, throughout this speech, I have recognised that this Government, like every Government across many years, have made some mistakes. I have also stated the important point that the Prime Minister has shown, throughout his time as Cabinet Minister—as Chancellor and as Prime Minister—that he cares very deeply, as I and my Front-Bench colleagues do, about ensuring that vulnerable people get the support that they need.

I would like to turn to the issue of the severance pay. Payments connected to the loss of ministerial office are defined in legislation that has been passed by Parliament and been in effect for successive Administrations. Ministerial changes and departures are part of the fabric of government. All Administrations experience them and they are a routine part of the operation of government.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am going to continue; I think I have been very generous with interventions.

The payments being discussed today exist because of the unpredictable nature of ministerial office. Unlike in other employment contexts, there are no periods of notice, no consultations and no redundancy arrangements. The statutory entitlement has existed for several decades and been implemented by all Governments over that period. Payments on ceasing office were made and accepted by outgoing Labour Ministers in the Blair and Brown years and by Liberal Democrat Ministers during the coalition Government.

The hon. Member for Wigan was asked a question by my hon. Friend Gareth Bacon about the level of those payments, and she either did not know the answer or decided not to respond. So I will tell her—[Interruption.]

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Lisa, please would you allow the Minister to give her speech in silence? I can hear you more than I can hear the Minister.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

As an example of the previous operation of this provision, the data published in 2010 indicated that severance payments made to Labour Ministers in that year amounted to £1 million. To ensure transparency, the details of these payments are published in the annual reports and accounts of Government Departments. It is important to point out that a Minister will be entitled to a payment on ceasing to hold office only when they in effect step away from Government and are not reappointed for a period of at least three weeks. Periods of continuous employment, where a Minister might move between roles during the same Administration, do not result in multiple payments.

In this context, I would like to draw Opposition Members’ attention to the fact that my right hon. Friends the Members for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) and for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) served as Ministers for considerable amounts of time before they were made Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that they therefore have a statutory entitlement. Let me be clear that, although this is a statutory entitlement, that is not to say that Ministers are unable to waive such payments. That is not a matter for the Government; it is entirely a discretionary matter for the individuals concerned. The Government do not regard it as appropriate to make arbitrary demands of individuals in relation to their entitlements. While the Labour party seeks to make cheap political points by denigrating the former Prime Minister and Chancellor, from these Benches I would like to pay tribute to the public service of Ministers of the Crown across the board and as long-standing Members of Parliament.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I would like to thank my right hon. and learned Friend for making an excellent speech. The Opposition are trying to link economic performance with severance pay. I recall that, back in 2010, the last act of the last Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury was to leave a note saying:

“Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money.”

And what happened to severance pay then? As my right hon. and learned Friend has said, Labour Ministers took £1 million in severance pay. Also, the four leadership candidates for the Labour party, Ed Miliband, David Miliband, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham all took—

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. You cannot mention current sitting Members by name. Anyway, I think the Minister has got the gist.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Minister of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

As we approach the autumn statement, the Chancellor has made it clear that there is a tough road ahead that will require extremely tough decisions to restore confidence and economic stability. As he has set out, if we are in a recession we will take the decisions needed to make it as short and shallow as possible. The fundamentals of the UK economy remain strong. The International Monetary Fund has forecast that the UK will have the highest GDP growth in the G7 this year, outstripping Germany, the US and Japan. We will continue to support the most vulnerable, to stabilise the economy by taking tough decisions to put our finances on a sustainable footing and to help the Bank of England to bring inflation under control.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:39 pm, 15th November 2022

There was a time, not so long ago, when Governments took responsibility. Listening to the Minister, it seems that time has passed, as we heard no contrition and no humility for the Government’s calamitous decisions.

The events of the last few months in particular have been unbelievable, even by the standards of this Tory Government. “It’s all the fault of Putin. It’s all the fault of covid. A big boy did it and ran away.” People across the UK, including in my North Ayrshire and Arran constituency, are now suffering real financial harm and real financial hardship as a result of this Government’s incompetence. The Minister says there are tough roads ahead, and there are indeed tough roads ahead, but those roads will not be travelled by all equally.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

The hon. Lady shows more courtesy than the Minister did.

The Minister would have us believe that the Government’s Budget had nothing to do with the 8,000 people in Southwark paying higher mortgage rates, and she would like to blame Russia. Does Patricia Gibson believe that the Government should take measures to punish those in Moscow and Russia who have profited since the war broke out, such as the Prime Minister’s family, to the tune of £7 million?

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The public are becoming increasingly wise to the snake-oil salesman approach in which one thing is said, accompanied by handwringing and head shaking, but no real action is taken to tackle those who profit in a way that most people would find obscene.

If we listened to the Minister, we would think that the so-called mini-Budget had not happened at all. The name “mini-Budget” is ironic because it makes it sound small, but the damage it has caused is very considerable. This Budget revealed, for those who still harboured any vestiges of doubt, whose side the Tories are really on. The so-called mini-Budget sought to scrap the bankers’ bonus cap, reduce taxes for the most well off, cancel the planned increase in corporation tax, refuse to bring forward an extended windfall tax and weaken the rights of trade union members.

Labour’s opposition to the mini-Budget amounted to £24 billion out of £43 billion of tax cuts, and it was left to John McDonnell, as it so often is, to call this mini-Budget what it actually is:

“the most socially divisive Budget in a generation.”

I understand that Labour is a bit worried about upsetting hardcore Tory voters in England, but sometimes harsh language has to be used.

Once the markets took fright and Labour saw the extent of the mini-Budget’s fiscal irresponsibility, it demanded that the entire mini-Budget be reversed, which was not its original position. The Resolution Foundation noted that almost half the gains from the proposed tax cuts would have gone to the richest 5%, who would have gained £8,650 on average, while the poorest half of households would have gained £230 on average. Almost two thirds, 65%, of the gains from the personal tax cuts would have gone to the richest fifth of households.

Torsten Bell from the Resolution Foundation described the measures as a

“simply staggering…tax cut for richer households”.

Save the Children described the tax cuts as

“a hammer-blow to low-income families”.

There were £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts, almost exclusively benefiting the rich.

While all this was going on, the SNP in Scotland was being urged, not least by the hapless hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) among others, to follow the Tories in Westminster in entering the bowels of tax-cutting hell, where the most well off enjoy the windfall of a tax-cutting bonanza. Of course, he U-turned on this, as he so often does. It is often hard to tell if he is going somewhere or coming back.

It was, quite frankly, immoral for such a Budget to be delivered when so many are struggling to pay their bills, and the consequences of announcing these measures—again, it is difficult to call it a mini-Budget given its consequences—were catastrophic. The pound dropped by nearly 2% against the dollar, to the lowest level since 1985. The IMF rebuked the Government for causing such damage to the economy, and international investors declared that the UK’s greater economic suffering than similar countries is a consequence of the “moron premium” it pays due to its terrible leadership under the Tories. The cost of this so-called moron premium stands at £30 billion.

For households across the UK, the cost of the Government’s staggering incompetence is still being counted. Forty-one per cent. of mortgage deals that had previously been available were pulled by the banks, with more than 1,700 mortgage products being reintroduced at rates 2 percentage points higher, leaving hundreds of thousands of families across the UK paying far more for their mortgage. Pensions almost collapsed, and the instability within the UK was the talk of the international steamie. The Minister talks about restoring financial stability, but such urgent measures would not have been needed had the Government not caused such instability.

Photo of Danny Kruger Danny Kruger Conservative, Devizes

It is true that mortgages are at their highest rate in 10 years, in Germany. Does the hon. Lady blame the mini-Budget for that? If not, what does she think might be happening?

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The hon. Gentleman cannot escape the fact that the markets went into meltdown after the mini-Budget. I know this Government want to pretend the mini-Budget, the consequent run on the pound and the near collapse of the pension system did not happen, but government is about taking responsibility and even saying sorry when mistakes are made.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Would my hon. Friend also point out to Danny Kruger that the Government cannot have their cake and eat it? They sometimes talk in this Chamber about how Germany is over-reliant on Russian gas, but simply trying to use Germany as a comparator in this argument is rather like comparing apples and avocados, is it not?

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Absolutely, and I am sure Danny Kruger will be taking note and learning the lessons he needs to learn from that insight.

There is not expected to be a reduction in mortgage rates any time soon.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Some estimates put additional mortgage costs at £5,100 a year, on average, by the end of 2024. I hear the chuntering from the hon. Gentleman about mortgage rates going down. He would do well to reflect on the fact that 73% of mortgage holders are worried about rate rises.

Alongside this, the UK Government are set to raise taxes. They will balance the cost of their own incompetence on the backs of those who are already struggling, and whose struggles have been made so much worse by a Government who could not find their backside with both hands. The number of Scots seeking mortgage help has nearly quadrupled, again as a result of this Government’s staggering incompetence. It is particularly galling for people in Scotland, the majority of whom roundly rejected this Government.

As if all this were not enough, inflation is soaring, rising to over 10% in September, a rate not seen since the early 1980s, outpacing normal earnings growth and expected to peak at 11%. Inflation is partly driven by sky-high energy costs, and the Government are already backtracking on the one thing they have done to bring down energy costs, with the expected bill rises early next year hammering households all over again—we could see bills of more than £4,000 in April. The shadow of recession is looming over the UK and threatens Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic, with the Scottish Government’s budget £1.7 billion lower due to the impact of inflation and the need to help households on which the UK Government have turned their back. This means that in Scotland budgets have had to be reprioritised across a range of areas to provide this much-needed support. Sadly, for the Labour party, when Wales’s budget is under pressure it is the fault of the UK Government because of how devolution works, but when the Scottish Government’s budget is under pressure Labour joins the Tories in condemning the SNP. That is why Labour is thrashing around in its death throes in Scotland, because standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories is not working for it. The people in Scotland are not fooled.

It is bad enough that households across the UK are struggling to balance budgets in the face of soaring inflation, rocketing energy bills and huge increases in mortgage costs, and it is bad enough that my constituents in North Ayrshire and Arran are facing unprecedented financial pressures, but while they do they are watching the revolving door of Government jobs, which have been changing with breathtaking speed. The loss of a Cabinet post is compensated for with three months’ salary, and that applies even to those who were in post for only a few weeks. Sky News has reported that this ministerial churn has amounted to £709,000 in severance payments for former Ministers and Whips. A total of 71 Ministers are eligible for this pay as a result of the instability of this Government. In view of the financial stress our constituents are facing because of decisions made by this Government, they have a right to know who has taken these payments, which are due entirely as a result of the instability and incompetence of this Government. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell us today, but I certainly will not hold my breath.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I wonder whether the hon. Lady would refresh my memory. She has been talking about the severance pay that the UK Government pay to former Ministers, but what do the Scottish Government do? I understand that in Scotland Ministers who leave are also entitled to three months’ pay, just the same as it is for the UK Government, and that they often take it up. Do correct me, but I understand that it is the same.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has listened to a podcast or something and has not been listening to half of this debate. The point of today’s debate is that the instability created by this Government means that Ministers who have been in post for a matter of weeks are hoovering up huge payoffs. If he can tell me that there is a precedent for this level of instability, I am happy to sit down and let him explain it to me. I see that he is not attempting to do so, so perhaps he should sit there and reflect on the fact that he is attempting to defend tens of thousands of pounds being paid to Ministers who were in post for a matter of weeks. If he is happy to defend that, he certainly will not have the confidence of my constituents.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Just to reassure my hon. Friend, I can confirm, as a keen and close watcher of Scottish politics, that in the Scottish Parliament Ministers do not resign on average every four days, as they appear to do in Westminster.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I thank my hon. Friend for that, but Anthony Browne seems to think that this is okay and perfectly in order. Goodness knows what his constituents will make of it, but that is a matter for him.

If Labour Members are concerned about these obscene ministerial payments, they must support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend David Linden, which would prevent this situation. That is really important, because we cannot allow this situation to continue. All of this adds up to an incompetent Government who have no direction or judgment. They have brought us into this mess—

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I just inform the House that the amendment was not selected.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Indeed. So there is no amendment and it is a straight vote on the motion.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I regret that the amendment has not been selected.

The Government have brought us into this mess, inflicted financial harm and are thrashing around to try to fix it. It is a failure of the Labour party not to be able to take on, in England, these arguments. The Labour party is preparing for government, but it has been caught out, because its interim leader, who was intended to steady the ship, will now, by himself, by default, lead the party into the next election. This is a London-centric ostrich, in common with the Tories, who thinks he can dictate, in a deluded fashion, to Scotland just how much democracy it can have. I think he will find, when the votes are counted in Scotland, that that will not have worked very well for him.

The reality is that when Labour and the Tories dictate to Scotland at election time, they are, in effect, two baldy men fighting over a comb. The voters of Scotland are sick to death of being patronised and talked down to, with their right to choose their own path dismissed and ignored by those who set themselves above them as their betters. The UK is in a mess—it is broken. Scotland did not vote for this and the incompetence of this Government is having an impact on Scotland in a way that is undemocratic, because we did not vote for this. It will never vote for a Labour party that is trying to out-Tory the Tories to win Tory seats in England with a pretence that Brexit can be good for the UK and to impose it on Scotland despite the damage it is causing. Shame on you! A plague on both your houses. Scotland will choose her own path and we will extract ourselves from this sorry mess of Westminster. Scotland will choose her own path in spite of, and because of, this shower in Westminster.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury 1:56 pm, 15th November 2022

Implicit in the wording of this motion is a rebuke, and I start by accepting it; errors were made during the tenure of the former Prime Minister. But I take issue with the Opposition in three parts: first, on the suggestion that the mini-Budget is responsible for the economic situation in which we find ourselves; secondly, on the suggestion that my right hon. Friend Elizabeth Truss should be treated differently from any other Minister, current or historic, in this Parliament; and, thirdly, on a suggestion that was not really developed by Lisa Nandy in her opening remarks, which is that my right hon. Friend should pay some sort of compensatory amount of £6,000 and that there should be some form of atonement. That theme has been heard more than once from those on the Opposition Benches. I think it was the voices on the left who said it was not enough that Tony Blair should take the country into war, but that he should stand trial and go to prison, and in this case people are saying that my right hon. Friend should pay some kind of reparations, of a figure that has no basis in reality. I refute that and I will set out why. I know that Opposition Members will react if I suggest that some of the economic predicament we find ourselves in is a result of external forces, but when I say that the Bank of England base rate has been climbing all through 2022, I challenge them to name a country in the G7 where the base rate has not been doing that, just as every country on mainland Europe has suffered a huge inflationary spike as a result of the war in Ukraine and the energy blockade that has been the decision of Vladimir Putin. I challenge them to name a country in western Europe that has not suffered those effects. I also respectfully remind the Opposition that the 10 years we have had of unprecedented low interest rates were part of a one-off sustained emergency response by the Bank of England to the 2008 financial crisis that happened on their watch, and I will come back to that.

I wish to talk for a moment about the ministerial severance package. I have looked at the legislative journey of the law that underpins it. When the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 went through the House, the Opposition did not vote against it. Section 4 of that Act said ministerial severance is paid irrespective of rank, length of service, performance in the role and the circumstances in which the Minister leaves. The Labour party did not complain when that was applied to more than 300 Ministers who served at one time or another under the Blair and Brown Governments, irrespective of their performance, even in the case of people such as Peter Mandelson, who got this twice in 24 months. When the last Labour Government saw fit—through the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act—to revisit the legislation in April 2010, six weeks before the general election, they made extensive changes to the terms of ministerial severance, but none to the qualifying criteria or the terms of repayment. There was no change even though the country was in the grip of the most serious economic crisis of my lifetime, even though there was, in the immortal words of Liam Byrne, “no money left”—he will never be allowed to forget that—and even though they were responsible for the catastrophic economic decision to sell off our gold reserves. That was presumably because they were lagging in the polls, they were six weeks away from a general election and they were all looking forward to receiving their own pay-outs, which they did.

We are, in this debate, talking about a former Prime Minister, but I cannot let the moment pass without saying a few words about the former Leader of the Opposition, who, when he departed office, was entitled to an almost identical amount of severance despite his having led the once great Labour party into a sewer of antisemitism. I was recalling some of the main acts of his tenure. In 2018, the former Member for Liverpool Wavertree was hounded out of a party that she described as “institutionally antisemitic”. The serious and systemic discrimination that certain Members endured—

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Did you inform Jeremy Corbyn that you were going to make reference to him?

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

In which case, can I ask you to move on then, please?

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

I did not inform the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill, but he has been referred to more than once.

I will confine my point to this: whatever the Opposition say about severance payments, it might be surprising to learn that the former Leader of the Opposition would have been entitled to exactly the same severance payment. The only reason he did not get it was that he was over the age of 65—it was timed out on age criteria—but I am not drawing an equivalence in any event.

Whatever mistakes were made by the former Prime Minister, and I conceded at the start that mistakes were made, the ambition was laudable—as, to be fair, it so often is for Leaders of whatever stripe when they are at the helm. She was seeking to create a rapidly growing economy for the good of the country, even if her execution in that ambition failed. It is an ambition that many of us on these Conservative Benches share, and it is an ambition that Opposition Members share, too, as shown by the wording of their next motion, which is all about economic growth. But Conservative Members do not spend our time calling for scalps, or jail sentences, or compensation, or unique terms because a politician has failed. Rather than wasting time seeking social media clips, we think government is about the serious endeavour of delivering for the British people and providing answers to the issues that matter.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

If we are to get everybody in and move on to the next debate at 4 pm, wind-ups will have to start at no later than 3.40 pm. If everybody stuck to about eight minutes without my putting the clock on, that would be helpful.

Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:02 pm, 15th November 2022

May I first respond to the contribution of Laura Farris? “It’s Ukraine; it’s everything else in the world,” the Government keep saying, but the disaster was cooked up in No. 10, and my constituents and those of Conservative Members are paying the price. The Government cannot keep faking it till they make it. They cannot carry on saying, “It’s this, that or the other to blame,” because the people out there—the public—can see what is happening. There is an air of desperation. The Government are going back to votes from 2010 and 2008 just to cover up their incompetence—

Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Home Office)

No, I will not give way.

For the past 12 years, we have been seeing the crisis develop under the Government’s watch, but we will not be taking any lessons from their “Fake it till you make it” approach. Bring on the next general election—the sooner it comes, the better, because people will say exactly what they make of the Government. This crisis was made in No.10, and nowhere else. It was made by the Government’s own hierarchy. The current mortgage crisis—and not just this one—was created by the incompetency of the Conservative party. The current Prime Minister, then a leadership candidate, warned the former Prime Minister that her economic plan was a “fairy tale”, but still the former Prime Minister experimented with the economy and gambled with the livelihoods and the savings of our constituents—of working people—knowing full well that people across the country were enduring a cost of living crisis.

The Prime Minister now warns of more difficult decisions to come and a profound economic crisis—a nightmare, not a fairy tale—for hard-working people, homeowners, first-time buyers and private renters who will now pick up the tab. The horrific incompetence of the former Prime Minister and the former Chancellor, which the Prime Minister, in his first speech, seemed to describe as well-intentioned “mistakes”, means that millions of families are currently facing mortgage interest rates of 6.5%. For people in my constituency, and those in the wider Yorkshire and Humber region, this means a monthly increase of £348. According to analysis by The Daily Telegraph, 1.8 million homeowners on two-year fixed mortgage rates will need to refinance in 2023. Interest rates are currently at 6.49%, which means that millions of families will face eye-watering hikes in mortgage repayments.

I ask the Minister to put herself in the shoes of families living in Bradford West—that is a tall ask to be fair. This year’s statistics by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition show that 44.6% of households in Bradford West are living in fuel poverty, a stark increase of 22.2% on the comparable figures for 2019. More than one in three children—almost 40%—are living in poverty, literally forced to skip meals. Parents are now looking towards a cold winter, not knowing whether they can keep their families warm in the year to come or whether they can even keep their homes.

The economy has been in the hands of the Tories for more than a decade, during which we have seen a fall in home ownership rates and affordable homes, with 800,000 fewer households being owned by the under-45s. It is clear that, due to this Conservative-made mortgage crisis, it will be harder for people to afford their own homes, robbing generations of independence, comfort and stability.

Since 2010, there have been seven Conservative Chancellors, four in the past year alone. When they first came to power, the future of our young people plunged. It was a Conservative Government who cut the education maintenance allowance, tripled university tuition fees, closed down libraries and youth centres and, with austerity, dragged our economy into downward growth. They failed to build homes and to allow first-time buyers a chance to buy affordable homes. As a consequence of their recklessness with the mini-Budget, they are now attacking working people and working families once again.

Under the Conservatives, the price of food to feed our families is up, the price of energy to heat our homes is up, the price to save us from losing our homes is up, and the price of transport to get us to work is up. Everything has gone up; it is not going down. The price for businesses to invest more has gone up. The price to rent a home has gone up. The price for childcare has gone up. The price for Government borrowing has gone up.

After more than a decade of Conservative destruction, the people across Britain are simply fed up. Enough is enough, Mr Deputy Speaker. This is about party politics. This is about those on the Conservative Benches saving their own skins and not about putting Britain first. If they had been putting Britain first and not putting party over people, they would have called a general election weeks ago. All this has been caused by a decade of Tory Governments, and my constituents deserve better. The Government continuously say that this situation was not made in 10 Downing Street, and that the IMF and the Bank of England had to intervene because of what is happening in Ukraine. They try to measure us against other G7 countries. Their banks did not have to come in. They did not have a run on the pound. They did not have a run on their pension funds. We had that because of the Conservatives. That is what they did to our country. They made this mess, and they need to fix this mess.

On Thursday, I hope the autumn statement responds to my Bradford West constituents and does not put them into even worse poverty than they are in now—and if they really want to fix things, they should call a general election and let the people speak.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield 2:09 pm, 15th November 2022

We have all acknowledged that the mini Budget caused a short-term reaction by the financial institutions, but other issues have been far more significant to the British and global economies. Indeed, the gilt yields, which were the focus of so much angst, are now back where they were before the mini- Budget.

Fundamentally, the economy is in the state it is in because of the lasting impact of the covid pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The Government have done everything possible to soften the blow to ordinary households. Naz Shah talked about costs being “Up, up, up, up,”, but interest rates have been at record lows for most of the last 12 years. What happened to change that? Oh—was there a pandemic? Was there a war in Ukraine? There were a couple of things that might just have happened. Do we think that food and power going up are not affected by what is happening in Europe. I find it bizarre that we are just ignoring that.

Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Home Office)

When we were in this Chamber voting on free school meals, which the Conservatives decided not to vote for, or on austerity measures that the Conservatives were putting through for our constituents, that was before covid. My constituents were in poverty way before covid happened, way before Ukraine happened, way before all the rest of it happened. We were not in a fiscally right position. The NHS did not have the funding. There was a political choice made by the Conservative party for austerity. It was a political choice, not something we had to do, and our constituents suffered. Libraries, youth centres—all of them were cut on the Conservatives’ watch.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

As someone said earlier, thank you for the short intervention.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the impact of covid and Ukraine, and I do not deny that they have had an impact on the economy, but does he not also think that the Government’s chaotic handling of Brexit contributed to that as well?

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

No—that is the easy answer. There have been many challenges with Brexit, but we voted Brexit through in late 2019. Being in a pandemic three months later did not exactly help the process of getting things done.

Coming back to my point, since the pandemic the Government have spent billions to protect businesses. Are Opposition Members saying that we should not have spent that money—that we should not be in debt because of covid and that we should not have supported businesses and people?

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The international investment markets have talked about the UK’s suffering more economic hardship than other comparable countries, which they refer to as the “moron premium”. How does the hon. Gentleman respond to that? Are they wrong?

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

There are so many people who have so many opinions about the different things that have happened and will put them into different contexts. We need to keep ourselves in context. To quote the numbers, the House of Commons Library estimated that the Government spent between £300 billion and £400 billion on various pandemic-related issues. That is between £4,600 and £6,100 for each individual. That is a tremendous amount of money. Before we had the chance to recover from the pandemic, Russia invaded Ukraine, causing the price of food and so on to explode. The enormous support that the Government have given in response to energy prices is expected to cost £60 billion over six months.

The Labour party are scaremongering that the support will stop in April and everybody is falling off a cliff. Nobody has said it is stopping in April. They have said that the likes of you and I, Mr Deputy Speaker, might not be receiving support—I would quite like to get support, but I do not need it. We need to ensure the money we spend is spent with those who need it, not those who just want it, and achieve that balance, but the immediate reaction on energy support—to provide it as quickly as possible—was wholly appropriate.

When people start to talk about interest rates, the rhetoric we hear from Labour about the £500 increase is selective noise, using a specific comparator of a two-year mortgage that was 1.6% two years ago, was 3.7% before we went into the mini Budget and is now probably close to 5%. The real effect on people is not a £500 difference.

Photo of Anna Firth Anna Firth Conservative, Southend West

My hon. Friend is making an important point about interest rates. Does he agree that UK interest rates are down since the mini-Budget? The five-year rate is now 3.3%, compared with 3.5% before the mini-Budget, and the two-year rate is now 3.1%, compared with 3.4% before the mini Budget. Does he agree that, when we talk about long-term management of the UK economy and interest rates, it is only the Conservatives who can be trusted to deliver?

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. What I find wholly inappropriate is this: we have constituents very worried about what is happening, the way interest rates are rising globally and so on, and what are the Opposition doing? They are scaremongering, making people think it is even worse than it is and that the worst effects are affecting everybody. That is wholly inappropriate and it is making people who are already worried become terrified.

I am sure we all go home and talk to our constituents and our businesses. I have many businesses in Sedgefield, and all the ones I talk to are nothing but grateful for the support this Government have given them to make sure they can pay their energy bills. They are nothing but grateful for the way we introduced the furlough scheme, which put a lot of the cost into the equation.

I personally have every confidence that our Prime Minister and our Chancellor will show us on Thursday that they are compassionate Conservatives, and that they will look after and help most those who need it the most, not just take a broad brush across everything—[Interruption.] Lisa Nandy is chuntering from a sedentary position. On the other point that has been raised about severance payments, those payments are statutory, and it is wholly inappropriate to have political intervention on those, just trying to make them a thing. Many people have received them over the years on both sides of the House, and there should therefore not be political interference in that process. It is up to the individual to choose not to take them; if they think it is inappropriate, they can take that decision.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

What do I think? I think it depends on the individual. The hon. Lady has chirped and talked—[Interruption.] Do you want to hear, or do you want to shut up?

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

We accept the apology, but, by the way, this is not a chat—this is a debate.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

My apologies. On the particular reference to the Prime Minister getting her severance and being in the job short-term, she was a Minister for many, many years, which drives the severance.

Going back to my final point, I have every confidence that the Chancellor and Prime Minister will do the right thing on Thursday. I look forward to the autumn statement.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) 2:18 pm, 15th November 2022

In my seven and a half years in this place, I have never known a time like this. Our country was already straining and buckling under the weight of 12 long years of austerity, the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, the economic consequences of Brexit and the war in Ukraine. But when people across our country most needed leadership, comfort and meaningful support from their Government, the Government gambled their security on their own ideological slot machine, inflicting entirely unnecessary additional damage on the economy, instigating a financial crisis and opening a vast, gaping hole in the public finances.

There is another thing I have never known before: the sheer scale and extent of the collective anxiety out there in our communities. That is palpable everywhere I go. People are terrified about how they will meet increased mortgage or rent payments, terrified about how they will afford to pay their bills and terrified about how they will continue to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads this winter. By undermining our economic security so much, this Government have delivered a huge blow not only to our nation’s finances and the health of our economy, but to our nation’s mental health.

What is the response of the Government and Conservative Members? To put the blame everywhere but at their own door. In no other country anywhere in the world did the central bank have to step in overnight to stop a collapse in pension funds

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech and is contrasting effectively the Government’s reckless disregard for the everyday reality of residents across the country. Does she agree that there is particular pressure on many younger people who are currently trying to get on to the housing ladder?

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Education)

It was already so hard for young people in our country to afford to get on to the housing ladder, and it is devastating for so many of them that that challenge has been made even worse.

This Government seek to pretend that the extraordinary and unprecedented situation we face—a £30 billion self-inflicted hole in our public finances—is normal and nothing more than a minor accounting error that they are seeking to rectify before they carry on with business as usual. They seek to normalise the terrible damage they have done.

This is not normal. My constituents do not get to carry on as normal as they struggle to pay their mortgages. My local councils, which, later this week, are likely to face further swingeing budget cuts to services that are already stretched to breaking point, do not get to carry on as normal. Our public services, including our NHS, do not get to carry on as normal. They all have to live with the disastrous consequences of this Government’s ideologically driven mismanagement of our economy. The loss-of-office payments are the salt in the wounds. The previous Chancellor and Prime Minister were reluctant to tax the windfall profits of the energy giants, but happy to take the windfall profits from the disaster they created.

This is UK Parliament Week, and when I visit schools in my constituency, as I did this morning, children ask whether it is right that former Ministers who presided over such a disaster are taking loss-of-office payments. They also ask whether the most senior politician responsible for our nation’s health during a pandemic that saw such catastrophic loss of life should be taking part in a reality TV show while his constituents are left to fend for themselves during the current crisis.

I hope that Government Members will visit schools in their constituencies this week to hear what children in our nation think about their behaviour, which is corrosive to trust and confidence in our politics, widens the gulf between those in power and the communities they represent, and brings shame on this place while our constituents foot the bill. I hope that Government Members will reflect on that as they decide how to vote on the motion.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative, Orpington 2:23 pm, 15th November 2022

I rise to reject the arguments put forward by the Opposition. It is a matter of regret that Opposition day debates have abandoned any pretence of being a forensic probing of Government policy and have instead become nothing more than petty attempts for clickbait on social media.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative, Orpington

No. I have great affection for the hon. Gentleman, but I am mindful of Mr Deputy Speaker’s warning about the time because I know that other Members wish to speak. If the hon. Gentleman makes a speech later, he can address my comments.

In George Orwell’s “1984”, people are required during the “Two Minutes Hate” to watch a film depicting enemies of the state and loudly proclaim their hatred for them. The Labour party appears to believe that “1984” was a guidebook and not a warning, because it seems regularly to covet the chance to fabricate similarly misleading narratives, such as that of MPs voting to allow sewage in rivers, which was patently untrue. The volume of hateful correspondence and even threats against Members of this House has risen in recent years. Anecdotally, I gather from colleagues that there seems to be a strong correlation between spikes in abusive messages and Opposition day debates. I will leave the Opposition to reflect on that and on their methods.

I note that in the motion there is no mention at all of the covid pandemic, which caused the greatest contraction of the UK’s economy for 300 years, or of the £400 billion the Government spent on protecting people through the pandemic. Nor is there any mention of the £37 billion of targeted support for those on lower incomes. Nor is there any mention of the war in Ukraine, which has directly led to massive increases in energy prices. The recovery from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have led to inflationary pressures around the world, which have in turn led to interest rate rises around the world. Again, mysteriously, there is no mention at all of that in the Opposition’s motion.

On what is in the motion, I respectfully point out that ignoring the disastrous consequences of rising energy bills would have been economic mismanagement. Instead, the previous Prime Minister and Chancellor put together a supremely generous support package that safeguarded both businesses and households. The energy price guarantee caps the price per unit of electricity and gas, and was introduced to counteract the looming October price rise, saving each household £700 on average over the winter. Had that not occurred, many families would suffer exorbitant and potentially unaffordable costs.

Similarly, the energy bill relief scheme applies to non-domestic premises so that businesses do not go bust and incur massive job losses across the country, which would have caused destitution for thousands. The previous Prime Minister and Chancellor took action to prevent such situations from occurring in the wake of what are ultimately global surges in energy prices.

It is not ancient history, so let me point out that financially ruining the country and leaving a note that says, “There’s no money left”, as the Labour party did in 2010, is quite literally mismanaging the economy. Thanks to measures taken by this Government, as of yesterday, mortgage rates have begun to fall, and some lenders are offering five-year fixed-term rates at less than 5%.

Lastly, the calls to dock severance pay for departing Ministers are a relatively new phenomenon and an over-personalised cheap shot, which is typical of the Opposition. I am not aware that any Labour Minister was particularly concerned about the matter before certain quarters of the media began discussing it. Indeed, not accepting severance packages was certainly not high on the agenda of departing Labour Ministers throughout the Blair and Brown Administrations, and certainly not when they were booted out of office in 2010. That is underlined by the refusal of Lisa Nandy to answer both the questions I asked during my earlier intervention. Yet again, it shows that the Opposition only follow and do not lead. The motion is simply game playing. It is entirely without merit and should not be supported.

Photo of Paulette Hamilton Paulette Hamilton Labour, Birmingham, Erdington 2:27 pm, 15th November 2022

The Conservatives crashed our economy, and mortgage rates have skyrocketed as a result of their mismanagement throughout this crisis. Under the Tories, working families’ pay is falling by £1,300 on average, and everyone is feeling the hit from the rising cost of energy, food and fuel. On top of that, people across the west midlands, such as my Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale constituents, are facing an average mortgage increase of £379 a month.

One of my constituents—a nurse and single mother—contacted me as she is worried about the effect that the cost of living crisis is having on her family. She is in debt, struggles to pay for her children’s school dinners, and often misses meals so that they can eat, despite being pregnant with her third child. Such stories are not unique to Erdington. Many people are struggling to make ends meet through tough economic times that have been made worse by Tory incompetence.

How do the Government expect people to fork out £400 more every month to pay for the rising cost of their mortgages? Where do the Tories think that people such as my constituents should make savings—by turning their heating off or skipping meals? The Prime Minister promised that his Government would be compassionate and that supporting the most vulnerable would be his top priority. I wonder who is feeling the effects of that compassion. Working people in my constituency certainly are not.

Young people in Birmingham, who have scrimped and saved to get on the property ladder, have been thrown under a bus in the blink of an eye, leaving them trapped in the broken rental market. The crisis was avoidable. More than a decade of Tory chaos has meant that 800,000 fewer households under the age of 45 own their own homes now than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Just over 32,000 households in Birmingham are due to come off two or five-year fixed-term mortgages to refinance their deals in April 2023. They face an eye-watering jump in repayments as a result of the Tory premium they will now have to pay. That does not include the one in five homeowners on variable deals, who are seeing their bills rise almost immediately.

We must be absolutely clear: this is a Tory crisis, made in Downing Street, but working people are footing the bill and they demand answers about who will clean up the mess.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire 2:31 pm, 15th November 2022

I echo at the outset the words of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: mistakes were made. The Prime Minister said the same thing. The most important thing is that we fix them rapidly. That is the difference between the Government and the Opposition: we do not repeat mistakes and go on, but fix them amazingly quickly. We had a quick change of leader and of Chancellor, but most of the measures that the Opposition have been discussing were never implemented. They were reversed before implementation. We await the autumn statement on Thursday to see all the measures that the Government will take to ensure that we live within our means and get the economy on the right path again.

Various Members on both sides of the House have mentioned the different crises that we have faced since the 2019 election. I sit on the Treasury Committee, and we have been following closely the economic response first to the pandemic and then to the war in Ukraine. There is no doubt that the pandemic was an extraordinary economic shock, not just to the UK, but to economies around the world. However, our response was by and large incredibly generous and ensured that the economic reaction was less severe than it would otherwise have been. Likewise, with Ukraine, there has been a huge amount of support for households in the cost of living crisis. Various Members have mentioned the energy price fix. We are also introducing a windfall tax, and there are too many forms of support for households to mention. Most people understand that the Government’s response to those two major, once-in-a-century crises, which happened back to back, has been extraordinary. It would have been amazing if no mistakes had been made. Some were made and we have put them right.

We all know what is happening here. As my hon. Friend Gareth Bacon said, it is political game playing. The Opposition are looking to the next general election and trying to burnish their economic reputation. They know that the Conservatives are trusted most on the economy and Labour is not. I do not blame the Opposition—they are trying to turn that around and say, “You can trust us with the economy; you can’t trust the Conservative party.”

It is worth reminding people of the Labour party’s economic record and why a lot of my older constituents vote Conservative. They have lived through previous Labour Governments. I will go back not to the Labour Chancellor going cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund in 1967 or to the winter of discontent, which I remember, when the rubbish was piling up in the streets, but to the last Labour Government of 1997 to 2010. I was economics correspondent at the BBC when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown came in and at the time of their emergency first Budget. That election campaign was largely fought on unemployment, but the economic scenario in 1997 was golden. For years afterwards, people said that Gordon Brown was the lucky Chancellor. He inherited extraordinarily benign economic conditions. I gave up being an economics journalist because there was nothing to write about. We had budget surpluses and flat inflation, but it was all inherited from the previous Conservative Government and the result of the reforms they introduced. However, that did not last.

It was mentioned earlier that every Labour Government have left office with unemployment higher than when they came in. The same is true of the 1997 to 2010 Labour Government.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for going back to the 1990s. It is fascinating to hear him recall that long period of higher growth compared with when the Conservatives have been in power. Does he want to reflect on that and the difference between the two parties’ management of the economy?

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I will come to that. The economy is like a tanker and it generally moves slowly. In 1997, the Labour Government inherited the results of the all the reforms that Norman Lamont, Ken Clarke and others introduced under John Major. However, that did not last.

The Labour campaign in 1997 was fought on employment and I particularly remember Gordon Brown’s rousing speeches about workless households—households where no one had ever worked. That was Labour’s big attack on the Conservatives’ economic incompetence. What happened to workless households under the last Labour Government? They did not decrease—they doubled. There were twice as many workless households when Labour lost power in 2010 than when they came in in 1997.

Another big campaign theme for Labour in 1997 was youth unemployment. One would have thought that, after 13 years of Labour Government, youth unemployment would come down. What happened to youth unemployment? It went up by almost half; 939,000—almost a million—people aged between 16 and 24 were out of work in 2010. That is the legacy of Labour’s economic policies.

We have discussed filling black holes and living within our means. I am a fiscal conservative and I believe that all countries and Governments need to live within their means. Labour inherited a golden economic scenario, but what happened in the end? As I said earlier, the last Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury left a note for his successor on his desk. We all know what it said: “Dear Chief Secretary, I am afraid we have run out of money.” As Margaret Thatcher famously said, the trouble with socialism is that

“you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

It is not surprising that the Opposition are trying to burnish their economic credentials and point to any mistakes that the Conservatives have made. We are putting those mistakes right and the Labour party would not do that.

Much of the debate has been about home ownership rates. I am a huge supporter of increasing home ownership. I set up the HomeOwners Alliance to campaign for people to own their homes. Some 86% of people want to own their homes. The Labour party has traditionally and historically not been a huge supporter of homeowners, preferring to focus on social housing. That is important, but so is owning your own home. Most people who live in social housing want to own their home. I welcome the Labour’s conversion and attempt to position itself as the party of home ownership—good luck to them. However, what happened to home ownership under the last Labour Government?

Generally, from the 1910s and 1920s onwards, home ownership increased under different Governments—even some early Labour Governments. It went up and up under Margaret Thatcher. What happened when Labour was elected in 1997? It took about two years for home ownership rates to start collapsing, and that continued throughout Labour’s last term. The Labour party was not the party of the homeowner; it was the party of falling home ownership rates. When we were elected in 2010, it took a couple of years to turn things around—a bit like a tanker—but home ownership rates started to increase again through all our measures to help homeowners. I totally support the Government’s ambition to build homes and help home ownership increase.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

The hon. Gentleman is being very generous with his time, but I would like to point out that, as I understand the figures, home ownership is actually declining at the moment. Certainly in my constituency, it has been for some time, and my predecessor, who was a Conservative, wrote an article in The Economist about it. The hon. Gentleman might want to reflect on the difference between what the Conservative Government are claiming and what has actually happened.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

I do not know what is happening in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, but nationally—I can provide him with a graph later—home ownership rates began going down a bit after 2010, but then they started going up again. They have had a bit of a wobble, but there have been a lot of economic things happening.

Given our economic track record versus the Labour party’s rhetoric, many constituents say to me when I knock on their doors and they are worried about the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and Ukraine, “Just imagine what would have happened if the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn had won in 2019.” Am I allowed to say that?

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

No—first, you are not allowed to mention a sitting Member by name, and secondly, I gave an advisory time limit of eight minutes, so if the hon. Member could start to focus, it would be appreciated.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

They say, “Just imagine what would have happened if Labour had won and the Labour party had been in power during the war in Ukraine and the pandemic.” It does not bear thinking about.

In my last few seconds, I will talk about the motion on severance pay. I am neither defending nor supporting it, but it is set out in legislation. That legislation has been there for 30 years, and the Labour party did not oppose or change that legislation when it was in power. It is up to the individuals whether they take it or not. I just point out that after the last Labour Government in 2010, Labour Ministers took £1 million-worth of severance pay.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East 2:41 pm, 15th November 2022

It is a great honour to follow Anthony Browne. I very much enjoyed his history lesson about when Gordon Brown came into power in 1997, when I was in primary 2. What relevance that has to today’s debate and the mortgage rates that are being experienced by my constituents, I am not quite sure. Unfortunately, Gareth Bacon was unable to take my intervention. I think he is right to express some concern about the tone of Opposition day debates. One of the questions I was going to ask him was how he thinks the Scottish Conservatives conduct their Opposition day debates in the Scottish Parliament and whether he could tell the Chamber how different they are. He seems to be shrugging his shoulders, so I am not sure he is aware how Douglas Ross conducts himself in the Scottish Parliament; perhaps he is going to explain.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative, Orpington

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I must confess that I do not spend a lot of time watching the Scottish Parliament, because I am often here, so I cannot answer his question. I would be happy to have a drink with him, and we could discuss it then.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

That is very helpful, and over the course of that drink I will explain to the hon. Gentleman that the behaviour of his colleagues in the Scottish Conservative party during Opposition day debates is quite something. It reminds me of that biblical verse about removing the log from your eye before removing the speck from your neighbour’s.

There are two parts to the motion before the House. The first aspect of it is how interest rates are rising. A theme has been developed throughout the course of the debate that that is to do with what has happened in Ukraine and the covid pandemic. I would not dispute for a minute that what has happened in Ukraine has had an impact on the economy and that the global pandemic has had an impact on the economy. However, as I said to Paul Howell, there is a third aspect that has also had an impact on the economy, and that is the nature of the Brexit that we took. I think most people and most respected economists would argue that Brexit has had an impact on the economy, and the cherry-picking—to use the Minister’s term—that the hon. Member for Sedgefield was indulging himself in, to try to ignore the fact that Brexit has had an impact on the economy, does a disservice to the debate.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)

My hon. Friend is making a very important point. People are struggling to make ends meet just now because of a number of factors. A key one is food price inflation, which has rocketed due to the costs of Brexit. We have seen prices double, and the price of basic foodstuffs has gone up 60%. It is a price that people cannot afford to pay and should not have been forced into paying, especially in Scotland, where we voted resolutely against Brexit.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Absolutely. I do not intend to rehash the debate on Brexit, though I am tempted to do so and feel that I would be on pretty strong political ground, but my hon. Friend is right to talk about the impact on food prices. In his constituency in particular, it is not just food prices that are crippling people; it is the fact that many of his constituents are off the gas grid. The paltry £100 that has been offered by the UK Government is not acceptable, as I think my hon. Friend is about to explain.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way once again; he is being very generous with his time. This is another vital point. The energy price guarantee does nothing for those people who are already paying an average bill of £4,000, which might rise to £6,000 a year, and for those off the gas grid, the £100 put forward by the UK Government has been described as “derisory” by Energy Action Scotland. These costs are crippling for people in constituencies like mine, where many people are off the gas grid.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Absolutely. I am conscious that the motion focuses specifically on mortgages, so I will move away from energy and deal with the issue of mortgage interest rates.

The general theme that Government Back Benchers are developing today is that Ukraine is to blame, and covid is to blame, and that is why interest rates have risen. I would not want to indulge in a whole lecture on the Phillips curve—[Interruption.] The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office tempts me. A number of people, including me, would question whether the Bank of England holding interest rates at the historic low levels they have been at relative to unemployment is something that merits a debate. Whether today’s Opposition day debate is that, I am not sure.

There has been a rewriting of history in the course of the debate. A number of Members seem to be suggesting that this is the fault of covid and Ukraine, and the mini-Budget had nothing to do with it. The reality is that the mini-Budget did spook the markets. The UK was put on a watch list by the IMF. Members have been falling over themselves with excitement to say, “What would have happened if Jeremy Corbyn had become Prime Minister?” I am not sure that even they would have imagined that under the right hon. Gentleman’s leadership the UK would have been put on an IMF watch list, as it was after the antics of Kwasi Kwarteng.

Over the course of the debate, Members have said that this is to do with covid and Ukraine, but the Scottish housing market review for quarter 3 of 2022—which we must bear in mind is written not by politicians but by economists and civil servants—says:

“There was a substantial increase in the number of high LTV products offered by mortgage lenders after the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of 95% LTV mortgages products increasing from 14 in September 2020 to 274 in September 2022. However, after the UKG Plan for Growth/mini-budget on 23 September 2022, the residential mortgage market saw a dramatic fall in the number of deals available to new borrowers over the month. The total number of residential mortgage products dropped to 2,258 in October.”

I am not going to do a “woe is me”, as a highly paid politician, but I am one of the people whose house was on the market at the time of the mini-Budget. We had an offer in, and then the mortgage product was pulled, so the sale of the house has fallen through. I am also one of the people who took sound financial advice and was told to fix my mortgage rate for two years, because most of us expected—quite rightly—that, given relative levels of unemployment, mortgage rates would start to rise. That is why a number of people fixed for two years. As I say, I am not saying “woe is me”, because I am a politician, and I am very highly paid; I am far too overpaid, in my view. However, as a result of the changes to mortgages that happened in an accelerated fashion as a result of the mini-Budget, the vast majority of my constituents will now have to go back to the position of many of my constituents in the 1980s—the people who live in the Mount Vernon area—who saw interest rates of 14% and 15%. We are not there yet, but I would not be surprised if we ended up in that place, because this is not going to be fixed overnight. The harsh reality for the Government is that, yes, interest rates have been rising and should have been rising, but everybody in the Chamber knows that the mini-Budget spooked the markets, and there was a run on the pound and a run on pensions. That was a direct result of the actions of Government Ministers.

As for the second part of the motion, most of us would accept that if somebody started working at, for example, Tesco on a Monday, and they were in charge of the frozen foods aisle, and in the three days that they were in work, they did not turn on the freezers and all of that supermarket’s stock was lost, the chances are that they would be given their jotters—they would be sent home from work, and they would be fired. The Government have conducted some sort of economic experiment based on the Thatcherite economics of the gruesome twosome of the right hon. Members for Spelthorne and for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss). They have crashed the economy—the equivalent of ruining all the frozen goods—and they have got off scot free. The thing that really sticks in the craw of Members of this House and, most importantly, of people outside the House is the fact that not only have they walked away and left absolute economic carnage behind them but they have been given a severance payment.

Far too often, watching Conservative Members and Opposition Members fighting with each other is like watching two bald men fight over a comb. Conservative Members say, “Oh well, in 2010, you took this much by way of ministerial several payments,” but we are not living in normal times: it has been calculated that a Minister resigned every four days over the last year. The Conservative party has the audacity to lecture people about sound money and sound government when, at one point, Ministers were resigning on average every four days as a result of complete incompetence. Some of the people we saw at the Dispatch Box, particularly over the summer, are folk I never dreamed would have a red box—people who I would not put in charge of tying shoelaces—but they are all walking away with ministerial bungs.

As far as I am concerned, there is a legitimate debate to be had by the Government and His Majesty’s Opposition about severance payments. As luck would have it, last month, I introduced a private Member’s Bill, the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries (Amendment) Bill, which seeks only to bring Ministers into line with mere mortals outside of this House. If someone has not been with their employer for two years, they are not subject to a statutory redundancy payment.

We are in a ridiculous situation. Granted, Michelle Donelan, who was Education Secretary for, I think, a day, did the right thing and said, “I’m not taking my severance payment,” but under the current legislation, Ministers and Secretaries of State who are in post for literally hours or a couple of days are entitled to vast severance payments. That needs to change. We can have the what-aboutery in the Chamber about Labour or Conservative Ministers taking payments, but for goodness’ sake, let us fix the legislation to ensure that Government Ministers are subject to the exact same regulations as those we in this place seek to represent.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman makes his intervention, I want to say that the advisory time limit is eight minutes.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade)

I will be brief. My hon. Friend is making a powerful point. Earlier, he reflected on the cost for people and their households. How does he think that the vast payments that Ministers are walking away with after a matter of days resonate with people who are struggling to pay their bills?

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

I am always keen to use the local Glasgow vernacular, but I am mindful that if I used it to explain how angry my constituents are, I would probably get chucked out of the House for unparliamentary language. That gives my hon. Friend a flavour of how my constituents feel about the grotesque sight of failed Government Ministers coming into the Chamber, playing with their little Tufton Street economic strategies and using my constituents, who are incredibly economically vulnerable, as lab rats, then walking away with thousands of pounds in a pay-off. That is absolutely outrageous and most of my constituents would not stand for it.

The motion before the House talks about severance payments. In reality, I would like to amend the legislation. Given the disgusting behaviour that we have seen from Conservative Governments, however, I would be keener to see Scotland severed from this Union altogether.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales) 2:52 pm, 15th November 2022

I rise to speak in support of the motion in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I will take the opportunity to raise some concerns on behalf of my constituents.

It is clear that the events of 23 September have had a far-reaching impact and that the damage done by the former Chancellor and Prime Minister will continue to cause hardship for some time to come. We know that the Government did not seek the benefit of an OBR impact assessment, so they had no clue about how the decisions they took would cause damage. It is incredible, extremely careless and quite frankly inexcusable of them to have allowed a Budget—financial statement, mini-Budget or whatever they wanted to call it—to be set out in that way.

Families in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, and millions across the country, will continue to pay the price for the Government’s mismanagement of the economy. Recently, I was contacted by a mortgage adviser in my constituency who told me that they saw first hand, on the frontline, the effect of the Government’s management of the economy. Because of the recklessness of key people in Government, mortgage rates and terms changed by the day, and it was almost impossible to predict what was going to happen next or to try to guide clients on the best path to keep repayments at an affordable level.

The advisor did three re-mortgages for three families that totalled £330,000—lots of threes there—in the weeks following the mini-Budget and the monthly payments went up by around £550 to £600 a month. When that is added to the rising costs of gas and electric, that means almost £300 per household per month that those families will now not spend in the local economy.

One example highlighted a mortgage that was set in May this year and was due to complete shortly after the mini-Budget. In late September, the same £210,000 mortgage over 30 years would be a staggering £350 a month more. The adviser offered a few examples of what they felt was a very serious situation for the economy. These mortgage rates and rising utility costs, coupled with the cost of food and fuel, will cause great hardship for many.

Another mortgage adviser based in my constituency told me that they are also seeing first hand the hardship that the so-called growth plan caused. They said that the mini-Budget had already caused financial hardship, because their clients across the spectrum—single mothers, working professionals and retirees—are all feeling the burden of the cost of living crisis and that has been exacerbated by rising mortgage interest rates. They said:

“Having to sit in front of a client and tell them their mortgage has risen hundreds of pounds is quite frankly heartbreaking, especially at a time when finances are stretched already. Unfortunately given the lack of forecasts and figures from the OBR which would normally accompany a budget, I am finding it difficult to ease our clients’ concerns about the bigger picture and what, if any, plan the government has to rectify this situation.”

The trickle-down approach does not work. Unfunded tax cuts are reckless, given that they put the Government and the central Bank at loggerheads over control of inflation. People in my constituency and across the country want some stability and a more sensible approach, but they are not getting that with the constant chaos from the Government.

Of course, we know that these extremely trying financial uncertainties will also have a huge impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. People coming off a two-year, three-year or five-year fixed mortgage rate in April 2023 could well face additional monthly mortgage payments of more than £500 alongside an eye-watering increase in energy bills. How does the Minister expect hard-working families to cope with that increase?

It is clear for all to see that this is the Government’s crisis: made in Downing Street, paid for by working people. They crashed the economy through enormous unfunded tax cuts, leaving people worried as they face higher mortgages and soaring costs. They have damaged the UK’s reputation on the global stage and left us all worse off. They reversed most of the mini-Budget, U-turned on most things, and abandoned their discredited and dangerous approach, but the damage was already done. The British people will now pay more in borrowing costs or through further Tory cuts to vital public services.

The average repayments for a first-time buyer with a two-year fixed-term mortgage have grown by £580 a month in the last year. Many prospective first-time buyers have had to abandon their hopes of getting on the housing ladder altogether, as we have heard.

Photo of Taiwo Owatemi Taiwo Owatemi Shadow Minister (Equalities Office)

My hon. Friend is making an important point. Many constituents have written to me with their concerns about being able to get on the housing ladder and get a mortgage, due to the fact that the Government damaged mortgage rates. Does he agree that the Government’s economic vandalism has had a significant impact on first-time buyers and their ability to get on the property ladder?

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Wales)

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend; we saw many dreams shattered across the country. That crisis was made in Downing Street and paid for by families in her constituency, my constituency and many others across the country.

We now need calm and market certainty. Labour would put a windfall tax on energy companies’ excess profits, so that we do not have to borrow more than we need, and would abolish non-dom status, which would raise billions for the public purse. People who make Britain their home should pay their fair share. Crucially, we would also respect the independent institutions that are designed to provide stability for the British economy.

I am seeking answers for my constituents. One question from my constituents has come up a number of times this afternoon, so perhaps the Minister can explain why the former Prime Minister and Chancellor, who were in office for only a brief period of weeks and who crashed the economy in that time, should get to keep a severance payment worth thousands of pounds. Their actions led directly to hard-working families having to pay thousands more every year for their mortgages.

In the Minister’s opening speech, she said that this country was not unique in facing financial challenges. That may be the case, but this country is unique in having a governing party that put in place a Prime Minister and a Chancellor who were clearly unfit for office and who ended up crashing the economy, which will cause financial hardship for millions of families for many years to come. I support the motion and urge Members on both sides of the House to do the same.

Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Local Government) 2:59 pm, 15th November 2022

I draw the House’s attention to my declaration of interests and the fact that I am a residential landlord.

We have discussed the cost of living on many occasions in this place, but as the fallout of the disastrous mini-Budget becomes apparent, I welcome the opportunity to discuss the impact on my constituents of soaring mortgage rates. I was disappointed to hear the Minister repeatedly speak of the need to restore credibility and restore stability without really acknowledging the cause of that instability and the lack of such credibility in the first place.

The Bank of England has said that a typical mortgage holder will see annual repayments rise by just under £3,000 over the next year, but according to the Resolution Foundation, at least £500 of that is purely due to the mini-Budget. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that an extra 120,000 households in the UK—about 400,000 people—will be plunged into poverty when their current mortgage deal ends, and about 750,000 households or 2.4 million people with a mortgage are already in poverty. That is because, although interest rates have been historically low, there is a crisis of housing affordability. Housing now accounts for such a big proportion of people’s monthly income that they cannot afford any additional shock, whether that is in energy prices, food, council tax or, indeed, their mortgage interest payment.

It is not only mortgage holders who are affected. Those in private rented accommodation, who are already paying even more of their monthly income in housing costs than mortgage holders, are likely to be impacted too, as those who cannot pay their mortgage are forced to leave their homes and increase competition for rented homes, and buy to let landlords either leave the market or pass on higher mortgage costs to their tenants. Rented accommodation is already impossible to find in many parts of the country. I have a constituent who was asked to put down a deposit on a flat in a small market town in North Shropshire before he had seen it, and when he went to pick up the keys, he found a dilapidated, uninhabitable property. Local employers report being unable to attract workers because of the shortage of housing available to them, so any crisis in housing market will send shock waves throughout the economy and worsen this difficult situation.

That is on top of the extreme pressure that household finances are already under. People are paying twice as much to heat their homes this winter as they did last year, and food prices are soaring. The impact is even worse for people living in rural constituencies such as North Shropshire, where studies show that even before this intervention everything cost more than for their urban counterparts—whether that is food, housing, council tax, transport or fuel—alongside the fact that average wages in rural areas are significantly lower. Thus far, we have seen very little done to help those in rural areas, but over the weekend we have seen threats to cut the essential public services that are already thin on the ground here, threats to cut the pensions and benefits of those who are struggling to make ends meet, and threats to raise taxes for those working hard just to keep their heads above water.

So imagine such people’s fury at the fact that the Conservative turmoil has led to huge numbers of former Ministers being able to claim payouts, with the two reshuffles carried out since July potentially costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. Ministers who were sacked just months ago but have since been reappointed are still able to claim thousands of pounds each in redundancy pay, as long as they have been out of a ministerial post for only three weeks. For example, Dominic Raab, who was sacked by Elizabeth Truss in September but was later reappointed as Justice Secretary, would be eligible to receive £16,876, despite having been out of a ministerial job for seven weeks. To put that in context, that would be enough to rent a two-bedroom flat for more than two years in Whitchurch in my constituency. Everyone understands the need for legislation to provide severance payments, but as David Linden pointed out, surely this legislation was not intended for this situation of chronic instability. After all, these Ministers have continued to draw their basic MP’s salary, at almost four times the national average, throughout the period of not having their ministerial role.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

The hon. Lady is making a very fair point. Does she think one thing that could help to ameliorate this situation is if we had a rule, as we have for many public sector employees, that if someone receives a redundancy payment but goes back into a job that is similar to or the same as the previous job, they do not receive the redundancy payment?

Photo of Helen Morgan Helen Morgan Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Local Government)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, and I think that is a sensible suggestion. However, we also need to reflect on the fact that, in the case of the former Prime Minister and Chancellor, they did not leave their jobs through redundancy; they were sacked for incompetence, and that would not normally lead to a severance payment. There is no question but that this chaotic political situation has caused farcical revolving-door bonuses, and I believe this money should be returned to the Treasury to help plug the hole for families struggling with the cost of living or, indeed, to help plug the hole created by the disastrous Budget.

I urge the Government to listen to the proposals made by the Liberal Democrats, because over the summer we have been leading the way on action to tackle the cost of living crisis. We were the first to call for a windfall tax on the record profits of the oil and gas giants, and we were the first to call for a freeze on energy bills over the summer. On top of this, we are the first to call for the Government to provide extra targeted support for mortgage holders on universal credit. We have proposed a mortgage protection fund, paid for by reversing the unfair and unnecessary tax cuts for the big banks, and we would like these measures targeted at those most at risk of repossession. We are also calling on the Government to act urgently to protect renters, to ban no fault evictions and to stop landlords threatening to evict current tenants just so they can hike their rents. We want to produce longer tenancies of three years or more, with fair annual rent increases built in, to give renters the certainty they need.

When those renters see their position become even less secure and those with mortgages struggle to make ends meet or even risk losing their homes, they must be sickened to see the potential scale of Government severance payments. When they see the Chancellor appear on TV to warm them up for cuts and tax rises, I imagine they would not expect the Ministers who have caused this situation with their terrible misjudgment to be benefiting financially. I ask the Minister to confirm whether those Ministers entitled to payments who were subsequently reappointed have accepted their initial severance payouts. Have the ex-Prime Minister, Cabinet members and the Chancellor who caused this situation waived their severance payments, and will the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk, having severely damaged the UK economic outlook, draw expenses of in excess of £100,000 a year while my constituents lie awake at night worrying how they are going to make ends meet?

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy) 3:07 pm, 15th November 2022

A roof over your head, security at home and the peace of mind of knowing that at the end of the day you have somewhere to return to are the cornerstones of a happy and prosperous society. As we have heard, home ownership is the goal for so many of the constituents we represent and of those I speak with, and for years many have benefited from low and stable interest rates. Indeed, a whole generation of homeowners have taken their first steps on to the housing market knowing nothing other than that situation, which is one reason why I fear this current crisis is going to hit people harder and be more damaging than the previous interest rate rises we have seen.

The most immediate effect will be on those who do not actually own their home. There are many significant challenges people face when they are trying to get on the housing ladder, and the last few months have seen that ladder not just pulled up, but yanked away from hundreds of first-time buyers in my constituency. That has also placed many constituents who are already on the ladder in a position where their mortgages are no longer affordable.

Let us be clear: all of this was totally avoidable. It is the Conservative Government who have created this situation with their desire to turn the UK into a deranged economic experiment. This has spooked the markets, and while the main protagonists of this folly have gone, the Government remain, but it is the hard-working people who will pay the cost of this stupidity for many years to come.

I have spoken to one constituent whose repayment mortgage was unfortunately being negotiated right at the time the Government began their experiment. His family now face an increase in their mortgage repayments of £410 every single month. That is the sort of eye-watering, almost overnight increase in costs that all but the most well-off in society will have no chance of meeting. What of course makes this worse is that this comes on top of a year in which just about every expense a household will face has also gone up—council tax, energy bills and, of course, the weekly shop. Everyday costs have shot up well beyond any increases in wages, and those factors on their own are more than enough to put most households in trouble, but if we factor in mortgage increases of that degree on top, we reach a position that is clearly unsustainable.

We hear those seeking to absolve themselves of blame for this mess pointing to a pre-existing trend of increasing mortgage rates. While it is not disputed that there was indeed a slight upward trend before the kami-Kwasi Budget, there is no doubt that it is the Government’s reckless actions that have put rocket boosters under that trend, with the result that so much happened so quickly overnight. When the then Prime Minister and Chancellor decided to push ahead with their uncosted tax cuts, did they think for even a minute about what that might mean for people like my constituent who, over the next five years, will be paying an extra £25,000 on their mortgage? Of course they did not think about that; this Budget was not about my constituents’ interests or the interests of the vast majority of people in this country. And now my constituent asks:

“Can you please find out how the Conservative Government and their Prime Minister intend to fix an issue they created?”

Many of us would like to know the answer to that question, and if any who were in Cabinet at the time of that Budget but have since left would like to donate some of their severance payments to my constituent to help pay his increased mortgage costs, I am sure he would be grateful.

On severance payments, this Government have been doing their best to stop ordinary people from obtaining compensation when they lose their job, for example by reducing the number of people who can claim unfair dismissal. We should contrast that with the absolute bonanza of severance payments for departing Ministers. They do not have to work for two years somewhere before they can claim a redundancy payment or have the right to claim unfair dismissal; they get it from day one—no matter how badly they behave and what rules they break, they get those payments. Those are not the rules everyone else has to adhere to; that is indefensible.

Let us go through the catalogue of chaos that has become the hallmark of this Government. We have had four Chancellors in four months, and five Home Secretaries in three years—although two of those were, of course, the same person after they served a massive six days on the Back Benches in penance—and we have had five Education Secretaries in as many months. In total, we have had over 70 Ministers depart since July at a staggering cost to the taxpayer of over £700,000. That is not only a sign of a dysfunctional Government; we will be told on Thursday that we are all going to have to pay more tax and that public services funding must be cut, so it is an absolute disgrace that these payments have lined the pockets of people who had only been in the job two minutes—people who have had to resign because of things which, in many cases, if they did them in the real world, would mean they would not get a penny in compensation.

Another constituent, who was in the process of moving house at the time of the Budget, was advised that the products from their current lender had been removed entirely, preventing them from porting their mortgage; and, because the number of other products that were on offer was slashed to around 10% of what had been available the week before, they faced weeks of unnecessary anxiety. While they were eventually able to secure a mortgage, it has come at a cost of around £200 a month more than would have been the case had they completed on their mortgage only a week earlier. One might say that was unlucky timing; I would say it is unforgivable incompetence.

To provide some context, at the beginning of covid, when the world came to a halt, 462 financial products were removed from the market. When this mini-Budget came out some 935 mortgage products were withdrawn in just one day. On that measure at least, the Government have done more economic damage with their Budget than a global pandemic. Conservative Members should reflect on that, and have a sense of shame that it has come to this.

Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the £65 billion used to shore up pension funds following the mini-Budget—£1,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK—is also a testament to the incompetence of this Government?

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy)

Indeed; we are all the poorer for this folly and we will all be paying the price for many years to come. And where was the Prime Minister during all this? He did not say a word; I did not hear anything from him about why this was wrong. He kept silent and kept his cards close, playing the game, waiting for the opportunity to strike. But now it is his responsibility to clear this mess up and he had better do that.

While the markets have now begun to stabilise a little, the damage has already been done for many, with those coming off fixed-rate mortgages facing payment increases of five to seven times their current deal and some being shut out of the housing market entirely. Anyone on a fixed rate, and that is many of us, will be looking ahead in despair and fear over the next 12 to 18 months at what their mortgage payments will be. Martin Lewis has warned about a ticking timebomb; it is indeed a timebomb and, worse still, this did not need to happen at all.

The impact is not solely on those with mortgages. In my constituency, the pressure on the private rental sector is extremely high, which has already contributed to increasing rents. It is now impossible to secure a three-bed family property for less than £900 a month, which is about 50% of the average income in the constituency. I am already hearing from landlords who cannot afford to continue to rent out their properties without drastically hiking the rents, something many of them know is simply not realistic. They are therefore selling their properties, which will reduce the number of available properties in the private sector and push up rents again. Other landlords are now considering issuing section 21 notices to their tenants, because they know that if they relet the tenancies they can get 20% to 30% extra on the rents; that will push yet more people into homelessness.

Finally I want to say a few words about a group who, sadly, know only too well the impact of high mortgage rates: mortgage prisoners who have been trapped on standard variable rates for years. A constituent of mine is facing the 14th year on such a rate, and in October his mortgage increased once again by £100 a month. In 2021, he was on a fixed rate of 4.54%, double the average two-year fixed rate deal available at the time. Through no fault of his own, my constituent is limited in the mortgage products he can access and while the amendment to the Financial Services and Markets Bill would have capped mortgage prisoners’ SVRs and ensured access to fixed-rate deals under certain circumstances, the Government chose to vote that down. The measures introduced to provide switching options were found to have a limited effect by the Financial Conduct Authority, and with the contraction of mortgage products, hope for mortgage prisoners is now at an all-time low. They have experienced for years the issues that are now widespread in society, leading to frustration from many that their plight was met with little coverage or understanding when it could have been addressed and mortgage rates were historically low. I recognise those frustrations.

The Government also must ensure that any measures cover not just mortgage prisoners but other people who are trapped in their homes. Many leaseholders with unsafe cladding or other fire defects, and those with egregious ground rent clauses that make the properties unsellable, will see their costs increase due to interest rates going up, but they will not even have the choice of being able to sell their properties because a lack of Government regulation has let them down by leaving them in a home that they do not really own but they cannot leave. That is a wrong that it is taking far too long to put right.

Photo of Beth Winter Beth Winter Labour, Cynon Valley 3:16 pm, 15th November 2022

I rise to speak in support of the motion on the management of the economy. The mismanagement of the economy by the Conservative party and the inaction on runaway inflation and profiteering has meant that millions of people are struggling with the impacts of inflation on their household incomes. The Bank of England decision to raise interest rates, the biggest rise since 1989, is going to hit mortgage and private rental costs, with devastating impacts on so many people and communities, including mine. The rise will have an immediate effect on over 2 million people on a variable rate mortgage, and while more than 6 million on fixed-rate mortgages may be currently insulated, when their deal expires in the coming weeks and months they will be paying £500 more per month on average. Recent analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that nearly 2.5 million people with a mortgage are already in poverty. It also found an additional 400,000 people will be pulled into poverty over the coming year.

Even before the rate rise, the housing system was broken. Shelter has done a lot of research, and it shows that one in three adults in Britain are affected by what it calls housing’s “national emergency”, an apt description of the current situation in the housing sector. We have a severe shortage of affordable, accessible, habitable, safe and secure housing. Having worked for many years in the housing and homelessness service, including with Julian Trust night shelter in St Pauls in Bristol, Cyrenians in Bristol and then Shelter Cymru for a number of years, I have seen at first-hand the pain and suffering of people in desperate housing need—and it can affect anyone, including people sitting here in this Chamber today.

I recently held an appreciation event in my constituency office in Cynon Valley for the housing providers, including Llamau, Hafal and the local authority. They are absolutely terrified about the current situation in housing and the cost of living emergency.

One of the few benefits of frequently speaking last in debates in the Chamber is that I can listen intently to all the contributions. I want to take the opportunity to set the record straight on the current situation and where blame lies. The blame for the current economic crisis and the cost of living catastrophe lies solely with the Tory Government and their economic and ideological approach. While others were speaking, I was looking at some figures. The Office for National Statistics said that, by 2020, almost half the wealth in the United Kingdom was concentrated in the hands of the top 10% of households, while the bottom 50% had only 9%. It has been estimated that the utility companies will make in excess of £170 billion in the next two years, and bankers’ bonuses are absolutely extortionate. We are the fifth richest nation and yet we have some of the highest levels of inequality in the world. Shameful, it is. More than 330,000 deaths have been directly attributed to the austerity policies of the Tory Government. The eminent Professor Sir Michael Marmot recently called the impact of the cost of living catastrophe a “humanitarian crisis” that will lead to thousands more deaths. That is the reality of the situation that we are experiencing.

I return to the specifics of the motion. Housing is and must be regarded as a fundamental right. In Wales, the Welsh Government are trying to do things differently by reducing short-term evictions, and they have a commitment to end homelessness. However, the Welsh Government and other devolved nations and regions throughout the United Kingdom are constrained by the fact that the purse strings rest here in Westminster. More must be done by the UK Government. We need a mass-building programme for affordable, appropriate and climate-proofed housing. The Government must provide a fair, needs-based funding settlement to Wales and the devolved nations. The homelessness charity Crisis has called for an increase in housing benefits and for the Tory party’s commitment to end no-fault evictions to be honoured. London Renters Union is calling for a day of action to freeze rents and link local housing allowance to market rates. We must extend financial support for people struggling with mortgage payments.

Alongside increasing the supply of genuinely affordable housing and better support for those on low incomes, we must see: a strengthening of the social security system; social security benefits increasing in line with inflation; a continued commitment to increase the national living wage; inflation-proofed increases in wages; and employment rights protected and, indeed, improved. We should be introducing windfall taxes and a wealth tax. Tax Justice UK has estimated that £37 billion could be raised by introducing a wealth tax.

The Government are to blame and are allowing the Bank of England, through its independence, to hit living standards as it seeks to tackle inflation. I pose this question before the autumn statement: should the Bank be required in future to take account of the impact of its decisions on real incomes and on living standards measurements?

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The wind-ups are starting unusually early—there are reasons for that—so, before I call the Front Benchers, I will say that, whatever the agreed time limits were for wind-ups, you can both go longer, if you so wish.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:24 pm, 15th November 2022

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am proud to respond to the debate on behalf of Labour. Despite what Government Members may say, this is an important debate. Why? Because it reflects the discussions being had around every kitchen table by parents with hushed voices behind closed doors so as not to worry their children. It is the sinking feeling that people are getting every time another bill comes through their letterbox. As we have heard throughout the debate, that is especially so with mortgages.

Under the Tories, we have seen next to no growth for the last 12 years and the economic picture is about to get worse. Over the next two years, the IMF predicts that the UK will see just a third of the growth of Canada and Japan, and less than half that of France and the US. The most recent GDP figures show the UK’s economy shrinking by 0.2%. We are teetering on the edge of what is predicted by some to be one of the longest and deepest recessions in history and, as my hon. Friend Naz Shah rightly said, it is a problem made at No. 10. It is not a problem made solely by Russia’s war with Ukraine—if it was, surely every country would be enduring the levels of next-to-no growth that we have had to experience.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham

My hon. Friend points out that this is a problem created in No. 10. On Thursday, after we have taken into account the reversal of the unfunded tax cuts that the mini-Budget put in place, the Chancellor will be dealing with the £30 billion gap left from that Budget, and taxpayers will have to pay for that in the months to come. On top of paying higher mortgages, therefore, people will be paying higher taxes because the Government frittered away £30 billion in a matter of weeks.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Unfortunately, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. As my hon. Friend Chris Bryant has said, even an 11-year-old knows that the Tories “broke the money”. While our European neighbours are working with mortgage rates of about 2.2%, a two-year fixed-rate mortgage in the UK is currently 6.3%. What makes the UK so different from other countries to the extent that our mortgage rates are more than double those of France, Germany, Sweden and Norway? The list goes on. What they do not have to contend with, though—unfortunately, we do—is a Tory Government weighing down our country with more than a decade of stagnation and failure, a shockingly ill-judged mini-Budget and the distraction of scandal after scandal.

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

When the Treasury Committee looked at mortgages in detail, one thing that was highlighted in the evidence sessions was the impact on the buy-to-let sector, where fewer properties will mean rents become more expensive. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Budget not only managed to harm people who own properties but is having a detrimental effect on the income levels of people who are renting?

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What is shocking is that, time and again, we have heard warm words from Ministers at the Dispatch Box, but there has been absolutely no meaningful action for renters. Labour has called on the Government to bring forward urgent legislation to end section 21 eviction notices. Thousands of people across the country are being evicted from their homes through no fault of their own. The Government could act, but they choose not to.

Ministers cannot hide behind the spectre of Putin forever. At some stage, surely, they have to own their own mistakes. Who has to pay for this failure? Is it the people who caused it? It is not the people who crashed the economy, according to the Government. This warped world we live in now means that the former Conservative Prime Minister and former Conservative Chancellors are actually being rewarded for crashing the economy. It beggars belief.

Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Home Office)

Not only have the Government trashed the economy, but what adds insult to injury is the fact that, while they recognise the mistake, they are trying to spin a new narrative to try to fool the British public into believing that this was not made in No. 10, but made by other factors across the world.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Absolutely. My hon. Friend makes a powerful point. Yes, everybody makes mistakes, but this mistake is a £30 billion mistake that the British people are going to have to pay for because Government Members refuse to take responsibility for their actions. It goes against every sense of decency and fairness we have in this country. I would love the Treasury Minister to tell me how they can justify rewarding the former Prime Minister and the former Chancellor with a golden goodbye, paid for with taxpayers’ money—not theirs, but taxpayers’ money. I will give way to anyone who can give me a justification for that—anyone who believes they should not give that money back and can give me a reason. We have heard that former Ministers can give back their severance pay—we have seen that happen and we have seen former Ministers donate it to charity—yet we hear nothing from the former Prime Minister and the former Chancellor who crashed the economy.

Photo of Taiwo Owatemi Taiwo Owatemi Shadow Minister (Equalities Office)

My hon. Friend is making an important point. Given the fact that the former Chancellor and the former Prime Minister crashed our economy, it is absolutely insulting to so many families who will be struggling to pay their mortgages that they will not give back their severance pay.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What is also shocking is that they could not turn up today to say sorry, apologise, and face up and take responsibility for the damage they have done.

There are millions of people in this country who do the right thing. They work their fingers to the bone. They are the ones paying for this Government’s repeated mistakes. They include people like the nurse in the heartbreaking case spoken of by my hon. Friend Mrs Hamilton, and a couple in Peterborough, who told us,

“My husband and I are both teachers. We work full-time and have a joint income of nearly £80,000. We have a deposit sitting and waiting of £35,000. I have only ever rented for the past 18 years. We couldn't afford to buy at the start of our careers. We were recently told we would be snapped up as first-time buyers. But then the crash came. We can't keep adding to our savings, costs are going up and some banks now want a 40% deposit.”

They include people like Jon, who works full time and whose wife is a small business owner. They and their two children live in London and now face a 60% increase in mortgage payments—an extra £600 a month. They include people like Bernadette in Hastings. Her fixed-term mortgage comes to an end in December and the earliest she can renegotiate is this month. She is incredibly worried about what the costs will be. She is a hard-working mum and a Communication Workers Union member who works two jobs, one as a postwoman and one as a small business owner, which she works around her schoolchildren.

As for Paul Howell, when he tells us to shut up—no. When people in this country are suffering, when people in this country cannot afford their bills and when people in this country cannot get on the housing ladder—no, I will never shut up, because the Conservatives crashed the economy. We on the Labour Benches will always, and proudly, be on the side of ordinary working people. Perhaps he should go away and learn some manners.

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

In a Treasury Committee evidence session, Charles Roe, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said that, when the Prime Minister was the Chancellor, he agreed to get rid of the zero earnings rule for the mortgage interest rate relief system. He signed it off. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Prime Minister should follow through on that promise, so that people who cannot afford their mortgages are able to get the support they need, which they were promised months ago by this Government?

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

That perfectly highlights the problem here. We may have had a change at the top, but we have not had a change of the people making the decisions. Ultimately, there was a problem before the mini-Budget. As we have rightly heard from across the House, people were struggling to get on to the housing ladder and that is continuing. So we need to hold the Prime Minister to account for what he promised when he was Chancellor, but we also need to hold him to account for his inaction since.

Citizens Advice Scotland reports a 25% increase in views of the webpage, “What to do if you can’t pay your mortgage”. As my hon. Friend Gerald Jones said, it is not just customers, but lenders who cannot have certainty or confidence in the Government to make life better. As the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend Lisa Nandy, rightly said, why are Ministers not meeting with lenders in the same way that Labour Front Benchers are?

If hon. Members think that is bad, across all advice webpages relating to mortgage problems, there has been a 277% increase in page views between this year and last. People are desperate. As my hon. Friend Helen Hayes said, that is not scaremongering. People are terrified because there is no leadership and because of the Government’s failure.

First-time buyers have yet again been the most affected, with home ownership down 26% compared with last year. That is not progress. I am glad that Anthony Browne is back in the Chamber, because I would like to update him. His points, which were either given to him by a researcher or his Whips, were clearly wrong, because the peak home ownership rate was actually 70.9%. Guess when that was? In 2003, under a Labour Government. As my hon. Friend Justin Madders said, people should have the right to security and peace of mind in their homes. People would have that under a Labour Government again.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

Just for clarification on the data—I will provide all that to you afterwards—as I said, home ownership rates went up through most of the 20th century. They reached a peak, you are right, under the last Labour Government, and they started falling—

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that it is not me who has been doing that. The hon. Member knows that he needs to address “the hon. Lady”.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

Home ownership rates peaked under the last Labour Government but then fell under that Government, and they are now going back up.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

We can argue statistics all we like, but on home ownership, people know what is happening to them right now and the reality that they face outside this Chamber. On average under a Labour Government, home ownership was 5.5% higher than it currently is.

Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent North

The hon. Member makes the point about home ownership under the Labour party. Does she accept that the home ownership rate was high in 2008, when we had the global financial crash caused by mortgages and people not being able to make their payments? That was, sadly, on the watch of the last Labour Government, allowing a scheme to take place that enabled bankers to crash our global economy.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

It is good to hear that the hon. Member is so concerned about people who crash the economy. I wonder whether he thinks his constituents would accept that the people who crashed the economy just a couple of months ago should take a severance payment and a golden handshake using taxpayers’ money.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I will not, because that would be a conversation, not an intervention.

To bring this back to the motion, for too many people, the dream of home ownership is now a never-ending nightmare of moving goalposts, with Tory Ministers reaching Jordan Pickford levels of blocking people from reaching their goals. It should never have been this way. The former Prime Minister should never have been coronated without an election, and the latest one should not have been either. The Conservatives should never have gambled other people’s homes, livelihoods and savings on their catastrophic economic strategy. The Ministers responsible for crashing the economy should never be rewarded for their failure, and the good people of this country can never afford a Conservative Government again. The damage has been done. We need a change of Government for good.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 3:39 pm, 15th November 2022

It is a pleasure to follow Sarah Owen. This afternoon’s debate has been very interesting, but at times we have strayed quite a long way from the motion. During my summing up, I will try to bring us back a bit.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I will make just a little progress, but don’t worry—we have plenty of time.

In a debate like this, it is important to be clear and a bit careful. There are two things going on when we talk about the economy in general: the international situation and the effect of decisions made by the previous Administration. It is true that both have had an effect; Conservative Members accept that. The Opposition will know that, having heard what the Chancellor said in this House on 17 October and what the Prime Minister said on the steps of Downing Street on 25 October. Listening to many Opposition Members’ speeches this afternoon, however, one would be forgiven for thinking that they had either not heard those statements or completely chosen to ignore them.

The fact is that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister have accepted that mistakes were made in the previous Administration, but it is also the case that a very serious international situation is affecting all major economies. That is why the IMF expects one third of the world to go into recession. It does hon. Members on either side no credit not to acknowledge those facts.

The shadow Secretary of State, Lisa Nandy, talked about a £30 billion figure, but she was not able to identify the source of that analysis or how it was calculated. [Interruption.] From a sedentary position, the hon. Member for Luton North says, “Her brain.” No doubt the brain of the hon. Member for Wigan is very large, but it is not itself the source of the analysis. Were she to footnote her brain in a report, she would rightly be called up on it.

The motion, from which we have strayed repeatedly during the debate, is about severance pay, about mortgages and about an attempt to censure two Members of this House. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State made clear at the start, payments connected to the loss of ministerial office are defined in legislation that has been passed by Parliament and has been in effect for successive Administrations.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Labour, Eltham

The Minister asks where the figure of a £35 billion gap comes from. It comes from the Resolution Foundation, which states that £45 billion is attributable to the unfunded tax cuts. The higher interest rates account for £30 billion. Offset against the £29 billion for the mini-Budget U-turns and £11 billion for the lower interest rates, that leaves a £35 billion gap entirely attributable to the mini-Budget—a waste of £35 billion that taxpayers are going to be asked to pay for on Thursday.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman’s figures take account—

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I certainly will, but I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman’s figures take account of the fact that many of the measures in that mini-Budget have now been reversed.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Scottish National Party, Glasgow East

Does the Minister understand that some of us see a hint of irony in how he chastises Opposition Members about where they are getting their figures? The disastrous mini-Budget was brought forward without a forecast from the OBR. The Government locked them in the boot.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The hon. Gentleman is an established and experienced debater in this Chamber. He will know that it is important for Members of this House to choose their figures wisely and get them right. If they intend to build a case, it is important that they do their analysis properly.

Ministerial pay arrangements have been in place for a number of Administrations. Ministerial changes and departures are part of the fabric of government; all Administrations experience them and they are a routine part of the operation of government.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I will come to the point that I am going to make and then give way to the hon. Gentleman.

The payments that are being discussed today exist because of the unpredictable nature of ministerial office. Unlike in other employment contexts, there are no periods of notice, no consultations and no redundancy arrangements. This statutory entitlement has existed for several decades, and has been implemented by all Governments during that period. Payments on ceasing office were accepted by outgoing Labour Ministers in the Blair and Brown years, and by Liberal Democrat Ministers during the coalition Government. As has been pointed out by a number of Members, data published in 2010 indicated that severance payments made to outgoing Labour Ministers in that year amounted to £1 million.

Photo of Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins Shadow Minister (Defence)

I thank the Minister for giving way at this point, because I value the opportunity to talk about figures that he has mentioned. The average mortgage-paying householder in Luton South will have to pay an extra £500 a month as a consequence of the failure of this Government. Let me return to the motion, however. Can the Minister confirm that if it is passed, the Government will either reduce the ministerial severance payments by £6,000—the equivalent of a year’s worth of increased mortgage payments for my constituents—or seek to recover the amounts from the Members concerned?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

As I was about to make clear, it is not within the Government’s power to do that. This is a power set in law. It is a power set in the Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Minister has laid out the legalities behind severance pay for Ministers, but—we on the Labour Benches have already asked this question several times—does he feel that it is right for the former Prime Minister and the former Chancellor who crashed the economy to take that severance pay?

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The House will be aware that my right hon. Friends the Members for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) and for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) served continuously as Members of Parliament for long periods before taking up the offices of Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer—in the case of the former Prime Minister, for 10 years, and in the case of the former Chancellor, for four.

Let me be clear. The fact that this is a statutory entitlement does not mean that Ministers are not able to waive such payments. However, that is a matter not for the Government but for the individuals involved. I am not a Treasury Minister; I am a Minister for the Cabinet Office. This is one of the basic facts that the Opposition do not seem to have picked up on when they embarked on the motion.

Let me now address the points raised throughout the debate about mortgages and housing. I recognise the anxiety that people feel about mortgage payments, which obviously constitute one of the biggest bills that many people experience. There are a range of factors affecting mortgage and other interest rates, but this Government will do everything possible, under this Prime Minister and this Chancellor, to get a grip on the problem of inflation and seek to limit the impact that it has on mortgage rates.

The Government are providing unprecedented levels of support to tackle the rising cost of living. From last week, nearly one in four families across the UK will receive a £324 cost of living payment as part of our £1,200 package for the 8 million most vulnerable families. Our energy price guarantee will save a typical household £700 this winter, on top of the £400 through the energy bills discount.

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

In an intervention on my hon. Friend Sarah Owen, I referred to evidence given to the Treasury Committee. Joanne Elson, the chief executive officer of the Money Advice Trust, said that the Prime Minister, when he was the Chancellor, had signed off changes regarding access to the mortgage interest rate relief scheme, but the trust was still waiting for them to be implemented. Those changes would mean that people need not have zero income to claim the relief. I recognise that the hon. Gentleman is a Cabinet Office Minister, but I wonder what pressure he could put on his Treasury colleagues to ensure that that promise made a month ago is realised today.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. Lady that on Thursday she will have an opportunity to ask the Chancellor about that issue.

Let me return to the motion, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] Please forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker! A thousand apologies. I am so sorry.

The motion claims that mortgage payments rose by £500 a month as a result of the mini-Budget. I think the Opposition will have noticed that on 12 October Full Fact rubbished this claim, pointing out that that figure comes from comparing mortgages available now with those available in August 2020, so it is not a comparison with those available immediately before the mini-Budget. While mortgage rates have risen sharply since the mini-Budget, much of the £500 estimated by Labour is due to rates climbing before it took place.

Once again during this debate we have seen that the Opposition do not have a grasp of the basic facts. Essentially, the facts must not be treated as an afterthought. They are not an afterthought on severance pay, on mortgages or to the international backdrop. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor are apprised of the facts and on Thursday they will bring a statement to this House that will look after the most vulnerable in our society and rebuild our economy.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
censures the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk, and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Spelthorne, for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK;
and believes that, if they have not already done so, both right hon. Members should waive at least £6,000 of their ministerial severance payments.